This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Mastery Charter Schools hosted its first-ever “action assembly” Monday night at its Shoemaker Campus in West Philadelphia to engage public officials about how to make the schools’ neighborhoods safer.
Packed with more than 600 people, the auditorium was standing room only.
Parents, students, and staff from Mastery showed up to discuss community gun violence with Mayor Kenney and police department officials.
Parent Monica Haynesworth, flanked by two mothers who had also lost sons to gun violence, told those in attendance about how her 16-year-old son Jameer was struck by a stray bullet while standing outside the house in June 2014.
“The guys that did the shooting did not care about the authorities because the police officers was out there, neighbors. My son was just an innocent bystander,” Haynesworth said. “He was a role model in the community, also his school. He always challenged his friends to do good in school. Last thing he put on his page was knowledge is power. I would ask all the children that’s here in my son’s memory to please continue to do good.”
Sixteen-year-old Ahmad Abdullah-Tucker said he feels the toll of gun violence.
“I’m a young man between the ages of 15 and 24. I want y’all to take time and take a look at me. I represent the face of gun violence here in the city of Philadelphia,” he said.
The junior lives in the Overbrook section of West Philadelphia.
“As a black dude, my first thought waking up in the morning is ‘will I ever make it back home today?’” the high schooler said.
Ten Mastery Charter students have been murdered — most recently Caleer Miller, who was gunned down last fall along with a St. Joe’s Prep student, Salvatore DiNubile, in South Philly.
“Black death is often invisible, and tonight is about visibility. Tonight is about highlighting those most affected by gun violence,” Abdullah-Tucker said.