City Calls For Different Reaction After Spate Of Violence
BOSTON — Boston Police say the shooting of four women on Dorchester’s Harlem Street on Sunday night was gang-related. Three died, and investigators say at least one of them was targeted. A fourth woman was injured, and remains in the hospital.
A Gathering On Harlem Street
Harlem Street is a narrow one-way side street less than half a mile from the Franklin Park Zoo. It’s lined with big three-story homes. In front of one, a small shrine of teddy bears and candles marks where the four women were shot in a car. Genevieve Philip, Kirsten Lartey and Sharrice Perkins died. Perkins used to study engineering, Lartey just graduated from college, and Philip wanted to open a beauty salon.
Across from the shrine, people came together on Thursday. Robert Lewis organized the gathering because he says he was shocked by the senseless violence. He didn’t know any of the victims, but he lives in Boston and is a father.
“It’s not about blame … but there’s once in a while when you don’t know what to do except to show up,” Lewis said.
He contacted everyone he could think of to come to Harlem Street — which included a lot of community leaders because he oversees grants at The Boston Foundation. Throughout Thursday afternoon a steady stream of people came by, including Mark Culliton, who is with the nonprofit College Bound Dorchester.
“Those young women were all like really successful and had sort of made it through the system,” Culliton said. “But they came back to the neighborhood, and the neighborhood is still, in some ways, fundamentally broken because there’s this small group of young people that we think of as wearing this sort of veil of disruption.”
A Reward, And Other Ideas
Lifting this “veil of disruption” was the focus of a community meeting Thursday at Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury. The Rev. Jeffrey Brown, who runs the TenPoint Coalition, wanted to talk about solutions.
“We need a game-changer and one of the game-changers that we need is that we cannot allow these kinds of incidents to happen anonymous, and no one sees anything or does anything about it,” Brown said.
The TenPoint Coalition is offering a $2,000 reward for information related to the recent murders. The group has never offered a reward before.
At the meeting, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said police have received lots of tips about the crime, but he pleaded for more help to find witnesses.
“If you don’t stand up and cooperate with us you’re destined to live under the fear of an individual who is capable of these acts,” Davis said. “And it takes courage to stand up, and it’s not an easy thing to stand up.”
At the meeting members of the community made suggestions about how to respond to the violence, including setting a curfew and establishing more cooperation among outreach programs.
“We need to collectively come together as a community, take a look at what might work, and try something different,” said Marina Tureen.
“We need equity in our advocacy,” added Ayanna Pressley, the only woman on the Boston City Council. She suggested the city examine its programs for women.
“We have to be inclusive,” she said. “Yes, our urban males are disproportionately at risk but, guess what, most of our urban males are being raised by single women who are girls.”
Several groups said they are planning marches and rallies for the coming days to keep attention focused on efforts to prevent more violence.