Camden residents come together for peace jam
CAMDEN, N.J. - July 26, 2012 (WPVI) -- It was a combination of music and a message in Camden Thursday for a night of peace on the streets.
Local rapper "Little Papa" thrilled the crowd of several thousand who gathered in Camden's Liberty Park for the "Peace in the Street" jam.
The event was organized to promote non-violence on the streets of Camden where residents, already wounded by joblessness and poverty, live in fear of nightly gunfire.
The police presence was overwhelming as children played in the park that was free of stray bullets at least for one night.
"It's a shame that my kids can't come out on the street and I have to have my kids in the house at a normal time because the violence is too crazy," said Tamika Ross. "We just had a death. Somebody on our street just got killed.
Camden mayor Dana Redd was out cheerleading for her town, hoping nights like this will bolster morale and the city's reputation.
"There are positive people in the city of Camden, and I know that we can have events like this without any problems and without any incidents of violence. I guarantee you, tonight will be a positive night," said Mayor Redd.
It has been an especially violent summer in Camden with 15 people murdered since Memorial Day weekend; 7 this month alone, bringing the total to 33 homicides for the year.
That total makes Camden one of the most violent city's per capital in the nation.
Lifelong residents are horrified by the dangers and desperately want solutions.
"I would love for us to stop this violence, because it is really getting out of control," said Sonny David. "We've got to get the guns off the streets."
"There is nothing for the kids to do," said Lawrence Johnson. "They need to see that there are other opportunities here. Right now, there's nothing here, just violence."
The event was almost canceled because vandals stole all of the electrical wiring in the park. But 11th hour money saved the day.
Most of the game attractions were donated by companies and agencies that do what they can to help the morale; hoping peace and prosperity will one day come to Camden.
camden, new jersey, homicide, local/state, vernon odom
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