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Philadelphia CeaseFire Launches New Effort To End Street Violence

By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia CeaseFire has launched a new campaign that it hopes will stop violent shootings before they occur.

"The young man that just got killed...we all know him."

Yellow caution tape is still wrapped around trees near 10th and York Streets where a 19-year-old man was gunned down last Thursday -- but he is just one of many.

"Shooting in this community is not going to be tolerated," says Quinzel Tomoney, supervisor with Philadelphia CeaseFire.

"People are living in a state of shock out here," he says, "they think these types of shootings are normal -- but they are not normal."

Wearing a bright orange shirt, Tomoney lead a team of about a half-dozen outreach workers. The group canvassed block after block in North Philadelphia handing out fliers advertising the campaign -- "When There's Beef, Call Philadelphia CeaseFire and We'll Squash It."

Philly CeaseFire
Philadelphia CeaseFire organizer goes door to door leaving fliers. (credit: Cherri Gregg)

"We want to get out in front of the shootings before they occur," says Tomoney, "we're telling the community 'give us a chance.'"

But they're not cops or social workers.

"I used to be one of the guys doing this stuff out here," say Martin Colon, 35. But he says his past is what gives him the "street cred" necessary to stop the killing.

"It makes it easier for me to find out what's going on and to mediate whatever the situation is," he says. "These are my people, this is my neighborhood, these are my aunts and grandmas."

Philadelphia CeaseFire's main contacts are in North Philadelphia, but if you call the hotline, they will connect you with grassroots community mediators in neighborhoods across the city.

If you know of a conflict in the streets, call 215-913-6917.

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