In 1990, the number of murders in Boston hit an all-time high -- 152. Most of the killings were the result of a violent crack epidemic and gang-related violence that swept through inner city neighborhoods across the country.
In Boston, it came to head in 1992, when gang members attacked mourners at a funeral in the Morning Star Baptist Church in Mattapan. The shocking attack inside a church galvanized religious leaders in Boston to take a stand. They formed the TenPoint Coalition, an alliance of black ministers and community leaders who promised to confront the violence head on.
The ministers went into the streets of Boston to convince gang members to stop the violence. And after years of mutual distrust, they established alliances with law enforcement, and helped push a new approach to policing that led to a dramatic decline in the killings. By 1999, Boston recorded just 31 murders, thanks to a strategy that became known as the "Boston Miracle."
The Rev. Jeffrey Brown was among the founders of the Boston TenPoint Coalition. Last week, he announced that he plans to step down as the leader of the organization he helped create 20 years ago.
- Rev. Jeffrey Brown, co-founder and departing executive director of Boston's TenPoint Coalition
- Rufus Faulk, program director, gang mediation and intervention at Boston's TenPoint Coalition
Boston Globe: "The Rev. Jeffrey Brown, the steady, pragmatic leader of the Boston TenPoint Coalition, is stepping down from the organization he helped to found 20 years ago, leaving a void in the city’s faith-based, crime fighting efforts that some say will be difficult to fill."
New York Times: "Two other people were also stabbed and gunshots were fired inside the church. Many of the 300 mourners stampeded for the exits, trampling others. The attack left blood all over the church's carpet."
Boston Globe: "This city is where Kennedy got his start. In the second half of the 1990s, the Boston Gun Project and then Operation Ceasefire were so successful at bringing down the body count that people from across the country came to see for themselves. But then, around 2000, it fell apart and the violence returned."
THE TEN POINT PLAN — 1992
The Ten Point Plan calls upon churches and faith-based agencies of Boston to work collaboratively to develop the following action plan aimed at reducing violence and helping youth to develop more positive and productive life-styles:
1. Adopting youth gangs.
2. Sending mediators and mentors for Black and Latino juveniles into the local courts, schools, juvenile detention facilities, and the streets.
3. Commissioning youth workers to do street level work with drug dealers and gang leaders.
4. Developing concrete and specific economic alternatives to the drug economy.
5. Building linkages between downtown and suburban churches, and inner-city churches and ministries.
6. Initiating and supporting neighborhood crime watches.
7. Developing partnerships between churches and community health centers that would, for example, facilitate counseling for families and individuals under stress, offer abstinence-oriented prevention programs for sexually transmitted diseases, or provide substance abuse prevention and recovery programs.
8. Establishing brotherhoods and sisterhoods as a rational alternative to violent gang life.
9. Establishing rape crisis drop-in centers, services for battered women, and counseling for abusive men.
10. Developing a Black and Latino curriculum with an additional focus on the struggles of women and poor
people as a means of increasing literacy and enhancing self-esteem in young people.
THE TEN POINT PLAN — Updated for the 21st Century
1. Promote and campaign for a cultural shift to help reduce youth violence, both physically and verbally within the Black community by initiating conversations, introspection and reflection on the thoughts and actions that hold us back as a people; individually and collectively.
2. Develop, as churches, a curriculum regarding Black and Latino history with an emphasis on the struggles of women of color to help young people understand that the God of history has been and remains active in all our lives.
3. Acknowledge and respond to the impact of trauma as a physical and emotional reality on the lives of our young people and their families as a direct result of violence.
4. Build meaningful relationships with high-risk youth by recognizing their reality on their terms and in their spaces.
5. Focus specially on connecting and rebuilding the lives of youth who have been incarcerated and stigmatized by mainstream society.
6. Provide youth advocacy and one-on-one mentoring for high-risk youth.
7. Provide gang mediation and intervention for high-risk youth with the goal of establishing cease-fires and building the foundation for active peace.
8. Establish accountable, community-based economic development projects that are organic visions of revenue generation and demystify the accumulation and power of money through financial literacy.
9. Build partnerships with the social/secular institutions of our city, with suburban and downtown communities of faith to help provide spiritual, human and material support.
10. Provide ongoing training for individual churches along with a systematic program in leadership development to create, maintain, and sustain community mobilization.
(Source: TenPoint Coalition)
This segment aired on January 30, 2013.