WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT
Story on Philadelphia Neighborhoods:
Gun violence in the city of Philadelphia happens all the time but is rarely seen by most Philadelphians as it unfolds. Today, while working on an ongoing documentary project, This is Kensington, Brad and myself were caught in the middle of this violence as it happened. Some would say wrong place, wrong time. The project we are working on is focused on telling the stories of everyday people in Kensington, the good and the "bad" as some might call it. Malik, a tall African American man in a blue Nautica sweatshirt saw us taking video of two women under the El, near Kensington and Cambria Streets. He was curious about what we were doing and when we told him he asked us if we wanted to come along with him. He had his nine-month-old son in his hands and his four-year-old daughter, dressed in a jean jacket and moccasins, walked alongside of him. He told us that we could come and talk with him and his family about the area, so we followed him to his house. He was picking his children up from day care. He joked about the daycares' around the area, how some are literally across the street from bars. He assured us that is not where his children go. His daughter, a little girl with a bright smile, carried one of those pointy cardboard "happy birthday" hats. She told us she had just been to her friend's birthday and there was cake. She assured us it was a good time. On the way to Malik's home at the end of their block a group of kids sat outside on the stoop. They noticed our cameras and asked us, like many do, what we were doing. We told them about the project and they told us we should come and photograph them while they rode their dirt bikes around the neighborhood. We told them that would be great and gave them a card with our numbers on it. When we got to the house Malik put his baby boy inside and his little girl followed. He asked us to wait outside for a minute while he tidied up the place, shuffling some things under the rug and making a space for us. Then four pops, but I wasn't really counting. Instantly they registered as gunshots.
Down the street only two houses away a tan car with the passenger side door open drives closer. I can't tell from my angle if they are shooting but its all happening at the stoop we had just passed with the kids we just talked to. It comes closer. The driver hits the van that I am crouching next to for cover, right in front of me, not two feet away. His head smashes into the window and there is smoke everywhere. Music is still playing loudly from the car. It probably only took a few seconds to register what happened but it felt like an eternity. The four-year old girl with the birthday hat is screaming, panicked, crying for her father. Brad and I look at what's happening. With my left hand I dial 911, with my right hand I begin taking photographs. The passenger runs to the street and falls to the ground. The driver doesn't move. The driver's sister comes up to the car and sees what happened, "Oh my God."
-Recalled by Sarah Fry
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