After attending a weeklong violence reduction workshop, Boston’s city and community leaders are prepared to pour resources into neighborhoods that have been impacted by violence.
Earlier this week the city of Boston was selected to be part of a new program to reduce gun violence. The program, which is hosted by The University of Maryland’s Violence Reduction Center, brings together experts and practitioners from across the country to participate in workshops with city leaders on how to reduce gun violence.
“We will not tolerate any neighborhood feeling like residents have to live in fear of violence or experience loss that ripples down generation after generation,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said at a press conference Friday. “We have the resources, we have the expertise. We need just to put it all together and it’s going to be following the lead and making sure that we keep the momentum coming out of this conversation going into the planning for this summer but for a sustainable, durable funded effort that the city will be eager to be a part of.”
The meetings were guided by raw data on violence in the city, which disproportionately affects Black men, according to Isaac Yablo, the mayor’s senior advisor for community safety.
“Black men are the most impacted by this community gun violence,” Yablo said. “Over 80% of those killed by gun violence last year are Black men. So it’s important to reinvest in into the communities most impacted.”
Although the city has several short-term solutions to curb gun violence such as employment, educational and mentorship opportunities, Yablo stressed the need to address the root cause of the violence.
In a few weeks, the city will be launching a healing tour, a community-led project aimed at bringing resources to communities impacted by gun violence. The idea was first developed by Brother Donnell Singleton, CEO of DS Consultants, who worked with several city and community leaders to bring the idea forward.
“We started trying to figure out how in fact can we bring forth some form of collaboration to then go to all of the hotspots in our area, speak to the community, offer clinicians, psychiatrists and things of that nature, partner with the city so that we could actually make sure that all the resources that are present would be there for the community, and then try to take all of us collectively in the people that we represent and see how we can come up with a sustainable program that could help in the long run,” Singleton said.
Although overall violence in Boston has decreased over the years, the violence reduction workshop comes amid a spike in homicides in Boston. As of April 2, there have been 11 murders in the city so far in 2023, compared to five during the same period in 2022, according to the Boston police department.
“I’m looking forward to really great work being done and continuing this work to bring peace to our community and to decrease the amount of homicides and the violence that have taken place in the city,” said Randy Muhammad, the leader of Muhammad Mosque No. 11. “We’ve been doing a good job, but the biggest room in any house is the room for improvement and that’s what we came together to improve and do better — what we’re doing.”