Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Life in "Progress" City - Philadelphia edition

The streets were vibrant. The weather was nice.

"The city had a good vibe," remembered one of the women, Maria, who requested her full name not be printed.

But their night on the town was about to become frightening.

Heading their way was a pack of teens roving through Center City after leaving a North Philadelphia music festival.

They were part of about 100 or more young people who had left Saturday night's event, police said, committing a series of violent assaults and robberies, including one against Maria, 25, of North Philadelphia, and her cousin Cecilia, 29, of Havertown.

Donta Holdclaw was in the crowd of teens that night. On Tuesday afternoon, he stood on the front step of his mother's North Philadelphia apartment and said the group was bound for South Street.

"They were holding fireworks," he said. "That's what we were going to see."

He had gone to the Susquehanna Community Festival, along Susquehanna Avenue near Broad Street, with his older brother, Aleek Hamilton, 19. Last week, Hamilton graduated from Mastbaum Vocational/Technical High School, with plans to attend college and become a mechanic, said his mother, Letitia Washington. He also was working at a West Philadelphia thrift shop.

Hamilton is now in jail, charged with robbing Cecilia.


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