Boston Police have identified three of the young women who were gunned down on Sunday night in Dorchester — Genevive Philip, Kirsten Lartey and Sharrice Perkins. They were all just 22 years old. The fourth victim remains in the hospital.
The women were parked in a car on Harlem Street in Dorchester just after 9 p.m. on Sunday night when at least one gunman approached the car and fired into the windows.
Radio Boston's Meghna Chakrabarti visited Harlem street on Tuesday. It's a quiet neighborhood — children on the sidewalk, houses huddled together, residents sitting on porches — but it was anything but a normal day. There was a makeshift sidewalk memorial of candles, flowers and letters written to the victims.
One who lives four doors down from the site of the shooting said he has lived there for four years and loves it. He'd always felt safe until last November, when two sisters were shot to death in an apartment on the same street.
The Boston Police Department continues to seek information about a white SUV that was on Harlem Street that night; it was captured by a city surveillance camera.
The BPD has not released information on the young woman who survived the shooting, but Radio Boston did manage to talk with someone who knows her. The young woman is the niece of Monalisa Smith, founder of Mothers for Justice and Equality — an anti-violence group she helped create after her nephew was gunned down in 2010.
We visited the group's office in Roxbury and spoke with co-founder and vice president Arlene Hall, senior pastor at Deliverance Temple Worship Center.
Arlene Hall: She has gone through one surgery and going through another surgery. The media will say there was a survivor; the question you really have to ask is how much will she survive? Her childhood friends were murdered in her car. She received several bullet wounds, going through surgeries. The trauma of dealing with all of this is compound.
And so pulling her through this – definitely we know we will have to depend on the grace of God and the support of family and friends and loved ones and organizations such as Mothers for Justice and Equality who feel the pain of the parents of these three young ladies who are now dead. But I believe this is once again a wake up call for the community, for Boston.
Meghna Chakrabarti: The Mattapan Massacre, the nature of that crime, people being dragged out into the street and being shot point blank – that was also called a wake up call for the community. Here we have this crime, four young women, sitting in a car, childhood friends, shot for what reason we don’t know. What are neighbors talking to each other about when it seems like the nature of these crimes continues to almost defy sense?
My 19 year old son said, “Mommy, this is nonsense! I cannot explain this.” I heard one young man having a conversation passing by our church on Columbia Road, and he said, “Man, this is a different beast.”
I know the superintendent of police, and in his news conference yesterday, he said that this seems to be random. Really? What do you say to the citizens of Boston? You cannot sit outside and have a conversation in a car because you may just be victims of random shooting?
I think both for those who live on those streets, for those of us who have been working with parents and families who have dealt with this, sometimes you feel like you’re not making much strides, but when you see a mother who lost her son last year stand up and say, “This is not okay" — for whatever it’s worth, for whatever I can do — if this doesn’t wake us up, something has to wake us up.
Someone might think, “Okay, I understand where you’re coming from, but in part it is a police problem." Is there something in terms of institutional law enforcement here around Boston that can be improved to prevent this kind of reason, sense-defying crime?
Certainly there is much room for improvement where the law enforcement aspect of this is concerned. But if you live in a community, you live on the street, and if your child was gunned down in front of your house, your prayer is that someone saw something, someone will be able to say something – and we’re not seeing much of that.
Folks are seeing and not seeing; they’re hearing and they’re not hearing. And so there has to be an awakening of a sense of community for us where we become the guardians, we become the watchdogs of our streets and our community. There has to be a sense of community so when it happens to your neighbor, you feel that sense of responsibility and you take that onus as if was you.
We visited Harlem Street today. When you’re there and you’re on the street, it seems like a tight knit community. Neighbors were chatting with each other, the houses were close together, people were on their front porches. So I hear what you’re saying that you could imagine that at nine o’clock on a Sunday night people were home – perhaps someone saw something. But if they’re not talking, if they’re not coming forward, does that make you think that the level of fear and uncertainty is so deep? How do you make people feel less afraid?
Well, the level of fear is definitely there. Folks are grappling with fear. It’s just easy to pull in. It’s easy to not want to be a part of anything. But that will not solve the problem. That will not help us to make a difference. I say to the mothers of these victims, I say to mothers of Mothers for Justice and Equality — to whom this has just really opened, as it were, a wound for them — that the work they’re doing is making a difference, and we will continue to say it is not okay for these murders to continue. We will make a difference.
This article was originally published on August 14, 2012.
This segment aired on August 14, 2012.