Philly Under Fire Episode 5: “Killadelphia”

The latest episode of The Philadelphia Citizen’s podcast exploring stories and solutions from the front lines of Philly’s gun violence epidemic looks at the toll of gun violence on Philadelphia’s youth

Philly Under Fire Episode 5: “Killadelphia”

The latest episode of The Philadelphia Citizen’s podcast exploring stories and solutions from the front lines of Philly’s gun violence epidemic looks at the toll of gun violence on Philadelphia’s youth

One of the quotes that stayed with us the most while reporting Philly Under Fire came from Melany Nelson of Northwest Victim Services. Nelson spends a lot of time going out to schools and talking to school kids about gun violence.

“The disturbing part about it is I’ve spoken to many youth and they said to me, ‘Ms. Nelson, either you’re going to be the predator or the prey. So you have to pick one.’ So nine times out of 10, they’re going to be the predator. They told me that they expect to die young and they’re not afraid to die young.”

Those words were chilling. But Philadelphia’s youth is also choosing to fight back against the violence.

Some of the loudest voices begging the city to solve this problem came from some of the youngest people, the young people who don’t want to fall into the illegal economy, the ones who don’t want their friends, their cousins, their classmates to be perpetrators or victims of gun violence.

One of those young people is a 16-year-old activist named Ramier Jones, who organized marches all over the city last year of young people protesting how Philadelphia was handling gun violence. Jones is 16 and yet his perspective was sharper than so many adults in power that we spoke to last year.

In this episode, we talk to a handful of young people in Philadelphia who have spent their entire lives surrounded by gun violence and its impacts, and have had enough: They’re taking to the streets, with protests and community gatherings, to demand things to do after school and on weekends, mentorship, work, support. And we meet some of the players trying to meet those needs, from Councilman Isaiah Thomas to nonprofits like Mighty Writers and Philadelphia Youth Basketball.

This week’s episode is called “Killadelphia” because, sadly, that is what many of our city’s young people refer to it as. They even put it as their location on their Instagram and other social media. Our city’s young people are speaking up and speaking out—and it is time for us to listen to them.

Listen to the full episode here:

Miss an episode? You can catch them all here.

Extra reading on the issues highlighted in this episode

Learn about Philadelphia Youth Basketball here, here, and here

Michael Hollander’s expungement generator

PowerCorpsPHL’s impact on Philly Youth

Abigail Chang’s Inquirer op-ed: Gun violence shouldn’t be a norm for my community


More ways to dive in and stay engaged

Check out Philly Resource Hubs for basketball programs, mentorship, college prep and more support for Philly Youth

Follow youth activist Ramier Jones

Follow Council Member Isaiah Thomas 


How you can take action

Donate to or volunteer with Mighty Writers

Support Philadelphia Youth Basketballor get involved


Now a little thank you …

Nadira Goffe is our incredible associate producer. We used a clip about Councilman Thomas’s resource hubs from Philadelphia’s NBC 10. Thank you to Mighty Writers for sharing your meeting with us. Thank you to Councilman Thomas and Max Weisman in Councilman Thomas’s office. Thank you to the entire staff of Philadelphia Youth Basketball. Thanks to Melany Nelson for meeting Jo in an outdoor recording studio that she created out of her car. And finally, thanks to Spring Point Partners for funding this project.

Header photo: Darrien Johnson leads mentoring workshops for young people at Council Member Thomas's Resource Hubbs—a free program at local churches, coworking spaces and rec centers to keep young people engaging programming in between school hours and nighttime. Photo courtesy of Council Member Isaiah Thomas's office.

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