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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Shots ring. Does anyone hear it?

Watching the news Saturday night, I decided; enough is enough. For the last three years, I have continuously followed the news and heard stories with similar themes regarding Boston neighborhoods: “shots fired” or “teenage violence”. It took me all this time to regard it as nothing until Saturday night.

According to the Boston Herald, “An 11-year-old fifth-grader with a bullet lodged in his hip claims he and two of his playmates were ambushed on a dead-end street in Roxbury Saturday night by a stranger who stalked, then shot the preteens at point-blank range. ‘He said he saw a guy peeking around the corner and felt something was about to happen,’ a source close to the triple-shooting on Academy Terrace told the Herald yesterday on condition of anonymity. ‘They were scared and were trying to get in the house, but the door was locked. He said when he turned around he saw the guy standing right next to him, pointing the gun at him.'”

If that does not sicken you, then you need to wake up. People can say “well, Roxbury has always been a tough area” or “it’s a race thing”, but it’s a failure by the Boston Police Department, Boston City Hall and citizens to maintain order.

The violence has gotten more heinous through the years instead of becoming better. Last year, the Guardian Angels, a volunteer community group out of New York, came to Boston to help settle the alarming violence occurring in Boston neighborhoods. The group’s founder, Curtis Sliwa, expected to be accepted with open arms in our city. However, the Boston Police Department and Mayor paid little attention to him, more worried about making sure “all rules and procedures that Boston police officers are bound by are also followed here.” So procedure is more important than the lives of the citizens. No wonder citizens are afraid of working with the police; because they’re worried about the wrong issues.

Time after time, BPD has gotten it wrong. Almost a year ago, they came up with a plan to search homes for guns, based on teenager crime. First, it was doomed to fail because they were pitting parents and children against each other. Second, if they were doing their police work correctly on the streets, they wouldn’t need to be violating citizen’s Fourth Amendment rights and coming into their houses. Third, people just didn’t feel comfortable. Who, in their right mind, allows the police to walk into their house? I’m not saying everyone is hiding something illegal, but it is privacy we keep.

Why not come up with a strategy like Giuliani’s Comp Stat system to combat troublesome spots? Better yet, why not engage the community in local events, say become a part of the community instead of the watchdog, ready to strike. Residents would feel comfortable working with officers who act as concerned citizens first and a police officer second, instead of a police officer first and foremost.

Now this isn’t the entire fault of the BPD because it starts with the people running the show. Mayor Menino and the Boston City Council haven’t done anything great to combat this violence. He’s bemoaned and complained about the violence and solutions were to ban guns because the weapons the criminals are using are already legal. I’m being facetious because banning guns like banning drugs will not change a thing because these criminals are not licensed to carry weapons and will find a way to obtain the weapons anyway.

Councilor Michael Flaherty, after the weekend shooting, called for legislation banning armor piercing ammunition and closing a gun law loophole that would enact tougher penalties against criminals in Boston. As I just stated regarding carrying illegal weapons, Flaherty can ban all the ammunition he wants, but it’s still going to find its way on the streets. Regarding tougher penalties for illegal possession, I agree with making people pay dearly for this because it undermines others who get their license to carry permits and use firearms the correct way.

The city government needs to involve the community in its affairs to gauge what is affecting the citizens and what is needed to help them. Chirping from City Hall on a matter on the other side of the city isn’t going to accomplish much besides alienate the communities and stir dislike because their elected officials don’t care.

We need the community to come together and work on issues like after school programs and community centers to combat violence. Instead of certain sections of the city working individually, we should encourage the city to work together as a whole. Bring in local leaders and foundations to solve the problems by using the leaders’ community knowledge and the foundations raising funds.

The solution to violence is not easy and anybody can play armchair quarterback like I am right now, but I believe we all have a stake in Boston because what happens there affects us all over the state. As fellow citizens, we should be outraged by the violent occurrences of the last few years instead of turning a blind eye. There are good people in these communities that are trying to make their areas better, I’ve seen and been a part of it. We should commit some of our time to helping these kids after school or work before they find their time in violence.