PA — A one-day stakeholder forum on substance abuse and gun violence was held in the city of Philadelphia on Saturday, April 16, 2022. The forum which was held under the theme “Alternative means of reducing crime other than arrest and detention”, was organized by the Minority Center for Participation and Empowerment. In his opening statement, the Executive Director of the Minority Center for Participation and Empowerment Mr. Alascal Y. Wisner Sr, expressed concerned about the increasing number of crimes in the Philadelphia area. Mr. Wisner noted that every other day there is a report of death associated with gun violence.
Mr. Wisner who immigrated to the United States from the West African Country of Liberia, pointed out the large presence of immigrant families in the Philadelphia area who were also direct victims. Mr. Wisner challenged the government to undertake programs that will help prevent crimes. He noted that the circled of incarcerations of perpetrators who are mostly minority folks will not help the situation. He pointed out that when a young black man is arrested, served his term, released from prison, and cannot find job because of criminal record, he goes right back and mingle with the same friends, violates the law, get arrested again and subsequently detained.
He noted that there are folks in prisons today for lesser crimes but are serving longer term because they do not have money to hire lawyers. Mr. Wisner said Minority Center for Participation and Empowerment was founder to help improve the lives of minority folks and reduce crimes. Mr. Wisner further elaborated that the Minority Center has several programs aimed at helping preventing crimes and empowering these folks. He said the Minority Center Substance Abuse program is intended to evaluate victims of substance abuse and rehabilitate them, while its Vocational training program is intended to provide skills for these folks to be empowered.
Mr. Wisner who is a trained Social Worker, reported that the Minority Center Sports and Recreation program is intended to keep these folks busy away from unwelcome activities and identify the areas of expertise through sports and recreation. He said folks will have the opportunity to identify talents of their choice, like singing, dancing, American football, Soccer. Basketball among others. There will be coaches assign to them base on the choice of talent and base on their performances, they could be recommended to NBA, NFL among others. Mr. Wisner finally called on all minorities to make use of the opportunities. According to Mr. Wisner, minorities refer to African American, people of African descent, Asians, Hispanic, and any person of color.
Also speaking at the program was State Representative Regina Young who reported that similar programs were been offered, and folks need to make use the opportunity of the existing programs. Speaking about folks with criminal records, she revealed that there were jobs available for folks with criminal records and called on the Minority Center to contact her office for the listing of jobs. She called on people to search the State system for resources. She finally called for the collaboration of programs for efficiency of solving the problems together.
For her part, former Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell and Chair on the Mayoral Commission on African and Caribbean Affairs expressed gratitude for the initiative the Minority Center is undertaking and promised to her commission’s support to the Minority Center.
Also present and making remarks were Mr. Stanley Straughter, former Chair of the Mayoral Commission and African and Caribbean Affairs and Mr. Voffee Jabateh, CEO of the African Cultural Alliance of North America (ACANA). Mr. Straughter lauded the efforts of the Minority Center and called for more of these initiatives. For his part Mr. Jabateh, an African from Liberia, commended Mr. Wisner and the Minority Center for the good job of working with the minority population to help improve their lives. He called on Liberians to support the efforts of a fellow Liberian.