Councilor Brian Worrell (Dorchester, Mattapan) had trouble yesterday getting through a formal reading of his request for a hearing on how Boston needs to increase its efforts to curb gun violence.
Worrell recounted how, when he was 16, he learned his cousin had been shot to death and how, later, he lost his uncle to gunfire. And then, he said, pausing and wiping tears, his friend Max Hylton, a barber at Celebrity Cuts on Washington Street in Dorchester, died after being shot twice last week, "doing what he loves, cutting hair and building community."
"We are tired of feeling unsafe at our parks and just simply walking through our neighborhoods," Worrell said. "Throughout the years, I've lost many friends due to gun violence and the cycle continues."
Worrell's motion, co-sponsored with Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson (Roxbury) calls on city public-health and public-safety officials to convene to address gun violence, in particular in the city's Black neighborhoods, by trying to stop kids from getting into violence to begin with. His hearing request points to the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative and, earlier, the Boston Miracle, as programs that can help stop the cycle of violence.
Fernandes Anderson said she's tired of people telling her the answer is for Blacks to pull themselves up by their bootstraps when the system makes it impossible for them to do so. She said it's time for Boston to put real money into the communities - she voiced outrage about the $300 million she said the city put into building a new Boston Arts Academy in the Fenway with nothing remotely comparable in Mattapan - for everything from parks to community centers. And, she continued, enough with affordable apartments - what the communities need are affordable houses, so that families can begin to build wealth in the same way that others in other neighborhoods have long done.
And, she continued, the city has to work towards reform of a justice system that treats Black and Brown people far more harshly than Whites accused of the same crimes.
"You are building the jungle and you get animals and then you ask: Why do you act so?" she said. "Build a forest so that I can fly like a bird."