Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Slideshow element
Photos: STEVEN M. FALK/Daily News
Reporting for duty in the city's struggle against bloodshed, volunteers await their first training session at W. Phila. High School.
Hundreds of eager black men received their marching orders at meetings in West Philadelphia and Germantown last night as the 10,000 Men: A Call to Action movement gained more steam.

The orientation meetings - the first of several that will be held across the city this week - gave volunteers a detailed picture of what they actually signed up for during the successful weekend kickoff campaign.

Organizers told the more than 300 black men who piled into an auditorium at West Philadelphia High School that they will learn the basics of their community peacekeeping efforts from the city's Town Watch Integrated Services.

"You'll be broken down by ZIP code so that you'll be working in your own neighborhood," explained Joe Certaine, an operations manager from the Millions More Movement who's volunteering his time with the 10,000 Men campaign.

Certaine said volunteers will be broken up into five groups of 10 men per ZIP code that will patrol three nights a week, from about 6:30 to 10.

Patrols are expected to begin within the next three months. The men were told they'd be contacted shortly to undergo more training.

Volunteers will start their patrols at city recreation centers and take notes while they walk, keeping an eye out for everything from corner drug dealers to abandoned properties and broken traffic lights.

They will report back their findings to an appointed squad leader and follow up with city agencies, Certaine said.

Organizers also reviewed a basic list of do's and dont's for the enthusiastic volunteers.

"We don't want confrontations," said Town Watch executive director Anthony Murphy. "You have no arresting power, and we don't want you fighting with anyone.

"We want you to use positive encouragement. This is a new day where we start by doing the simple things."

A number of top pols were at the West Philly meeting, including a beaming Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson, Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers and state Rep. Thomas Blackwell.

"We've got to be serious about this," Blackwell bellowed. "I don't want a dog-and-pony show."

Volunteers remained enthusiastic after the hour-and-a-half meeting came to a close.

"It was an inspiration to see so many black men come together," said Rashid Salahud-Din, 60. "Hopefully this interest will grow into something concrete."

Art Hammond, 53, and his son-in-law, Basheer Knight, talked excitedly about the healthy turnout.

"It shows people really care," said Knight, 20. "Me and my friends are all talking about it. We hope things will change."

Said Hammond: "It's a wonderful first step. We can see we have the support of the city, and that means a lot." *

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