I wrote this post 4 years ago. Alas, I’m not sure much has changed.
The most basic point: most of us are very safe. Shootings are contained to largely black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Massachusetts.
Are there BMGers in the crossfire? Would love to hear your take. Almost nobody on this blog, based on 4 years of reading it, describes themselves in personal jeopardy. Certainly this includes me; I live in Watertown.
I see the issue mostly through the lens of kids at our school. Our high school opened in Boston in 2000. The first time our community was touched by murder was 2001. Geoffrey Douglas, a sophomore, was shot and killed on the Red Line at 6pm.
From the Globe:
It was Geoffrey’s fascination with street style that ultimately led to his murder. [Monica Douglas] says her son had borrowed the large gold necklace he was wearing, against her wishes, from a family friend the previous weekend. Geoffrey’s friends later told her that he wore the chain simply to look tough.
I remember huddling with Charlie (our principal) and Geoff’s mom at the Boston Medical Center emergency room. A nurse was trying to convey that Geoff was dying, but was also trying to avoid such a blunt statement. Mom kept saying “But he’ll be okay, right?”
The next day was a blur. A team of social workers from Brookline High had come over to help us out. Girls were sad. Boys were angry. They wanted to do something. And by something, they meant find the killers and shoot them. We said the obvious stuff. ”Let the system work,” etc.
Years later the shooters were convicted of gun possession and assault, but acquitted of murder.
Since then it’s been about one incident per year affecting a kid in a big way, and several affecting kids a bit less directly (i.e., cousins, friends shot).
1. Z was a student at our school. Her brother was shot and killed in 2006.
“This is one of those successful immigrant stories; we thought he was going to do it,” his cousin and family spokesman, Abdirizak Mahboub, said outside [Abdullahi]‘s home on Shawmut Avenue. “It’s tragic that he was saved from the bullets of Mogadishu, but the bullets ” His voice faltered, and he started weeping.
Abdullahi and a friend were walking out of Peters Park on Shawmut Avenue Sunday when they saw Sierra and another boy standing nearby, said David Fredette, an assistant Suffolk district attorney. Abdullahi and his friend saw one of them crouch and point a gun at them, Fredette said. Abdullahi and his friend ran down Shawmut Avenue, toward Abdullahi’s apartment on the avenue.
The friend made it inside, but Abdullahi did not follow. When the friend went back outside to find Abdullahi, he saw him lying down, a bullet wound in his torso. Abdullahi was pronounced dead at Boston Medical Center less than an hour later.
The good news is that Z has become a superstar student in college.
2. Y was a student at our school. Her dad brutally killed her grandpa in 2006.
Boston police said yesterday that Lee, 41, was arrested late Saturday and charged with murder, hours after officers found the remains of an elderly black man believed to be those of [Edward Lee].
The law enforcement officials with knowledge of the investigation said the elder Lee’s torso was found in his Mattapan home. His arms, legs, and head were found in at least two plastic bags strewn in the yard of a Roxbury neighborhood where [Brian Lee] had done occasional odd jobs, according to neighbors and the law enforcement officials.
3. X is a student at our school. Her dad was shot in 2007.
Three years after being exonerated of the shooting of a Boston police officer, Stephan Cowans moved into a large house here on a suburban cul-de-sac, drove his new Mercedes or BMW to counseling sessions, and spent time with his grandmother.
His efforts to move on from the nightmare that consumed his life a decade ago ended Thursday, when police found him shot to death in his four-bedroom, two-story Colonial-style house.
4. Rashard Monroe had been a student at our school. He was playing with a gun in 2008, and accidentally shot his friend in the face.
“[Monroe] was waving the firearm around, and it went off,” Hickman said, describing the scene. “It hit [Floyd] in the face … and went through one of his eyes.”
With that description, members of Floyd’s family began to weep inside the court room.
Hickman said Monroe left the scene of the shooting when it happened, but once found by authorities, admitted that the gun was his and he did not mean to shoot Floyd. Just as Baez did, Monroe expressed remorse for his actions, according to authorities.
We exchange occasional letters. He pled to manslaughter and got 3 years.
5. Anthony Peoples had been a student at our school. He was shot in 2009.
It began with simple flirting – four young friends leaving a Dorchester party early Sunday morning when at least one man followed them to their car, trying to get the three women’s phone numbers.
But when they rebuffed the advances, the consequences turned deadly.
The women’s friend, 19-year-old Anthony Peoples, told the pursuer to leave them alone. Moments later, as the four friends sat in a Nissan Sentra, ready to drive away, someone pulled out a gun and shot into the car. Peoples, a Boston resident, was killed along with Chantal Palmer and Shacora Gaines, both 20, who had come from Brockton for the party. The fourth person, a woman whose name has not been released, was unharmed.
One memory from the (jam-packed) funeral: a group of kids, in full gang regalia, strutting in. The minister was up front imploring the community to stop the violence. I was watching one of the kids. He didn’t blink, just stared stony-faced.
It’s interesting, perhaps, to think about this at the gubernatorial level.
To my knowledge, no candidate even talks about this at a significant level. Did it come up in the debates? I didn’t see ‘em. On websites, Charlie Baker has nothing on this topic; Deval Patrick has CORI reform but nothing about reducing violent crime.
I assume they know what they’re doing: that voters don’t care, so they need to stick to what voters do care about.
Nor do I think “Enough is enough” type editorializing does much to change that dynamic. I’d expect something in Globe tomorrow because a toddler got shot last night.
So my question: if we hold apathy constant, are there any public policies that
a) would lower the shooting rate, and
b) can plausibly be passed*
(*Assuming the status quo policies is fairly solid, and won’t easily be displaced?
I.e., you can’t just say “Let’s change all the police details, so instead of paying them overtime to guard potholes being filled, give them the same money to walk an overtime beat in Mattapan, where they’re needed.”)
I wish I had some ideas. Do you?