“Violence is a virus”
The City of Boston like any other urban center in America is affected by violence each day. Any community that has been red-lined by banks for over 30 years, left behind in the quality of education offered publicly and faces un-employment at nearly double the rate of the rest of the communities around it will surely face levels of violence at a disproportionate level. These issues are long standing and systemic that must be acknowledged and addressed.
If we, meaning government and community of which I am part of both, treated homicide the same way we treated mosquitoes with the EEE or West Nile virus things would change. If professionals saw the first 2 or 3 cases and investigated, found that there were pools of standing water, signs of increased carriers of the virus and heavy rain that made conditions ripe for this to continue, a plan would be developed to look at the affected area, try to isolate it, and interrupt it with various methods and resources. This plan would be shared publicly to decrease panic and stress and let you know everything that could be done was in fact being done.
If professionals see 2 or 3 cases of homicide and investigate and see that the young person or family or neighborhood had conditions that would allow homicides to continue like trauma, depression, substance abuse or access to illegal guns we should be responding by looking at the affected area, try to isolate it and treat it with various proven methods supported by resources.
As residents, when we hear that the mosquitoes are carrying EEE or west nile, we typically protect ourselves and our children. We will wear the appropriate clothing; we will spray our children with a repellent at cookouts or the park. We will even reach out and protect the children of other families by sharing your resources.
Why do we do less than that when it comes to protecting our community and our children from violence and homicide? We cannot keep watch of our children 24 hours a day. We cannot expect the City of Boston and the men and women of the Boston Police Department to be present when violence takes place and prevent it each and every time.
However, each one of us can ask everyone to do their part at all levels. Each and every member of the church congregation and resident of the community can ask that their church and city not do business with any bank that has sold predatory loans or does not offer reasonable home and business loans to members of your congregation and community.
Each one of us can work to improve our public school system by meeting with parents and teachers, playing an active role in our children’s education beyond just entrusting it to someone for 6 hours a day. We can ask for civics to be taught in schools so children can understand how to make government serve them as it should. We can ask for cultural competence and equality in our children’s curriculum as well as in the training of teachers and other professionals.
We can ask city and state leaders to fund more mental health and substance abuse programs within the City of Boston. We can work to create more prison diversion programs for non violent youth offenders and those dealing with substance abuse instead of exposing them to a corrections system not currently equipped to “correct”.
We can request that the State and Federal government assist the local police department assist in the prevention and removal of illegal guns and drugs from our communities. We can create a local economy by creating and patronizing diverse quality businesses in our own communities instead of sending our money out to corporations who don’t hire locally or support our neighborhoods as good corporate citizens.
But just like the EEE and West Nile virus, if you knew it was close, you would take the first step and protect yourself and your loved ones by taking action. Well, we know violence and homicide are close. What we may not know is how we can repel violence or even that we are responsible for protecting ourselves and loved ones from it and sharing the repellent with other families and their children. We wouldn’t wait for someone else to come protect our children from mosquitoes why on Earth would we wait for someone else to protect us from violence.
I am committed to playing my role as a man in government and in the community to face the issue of violence with the direct actions I have listed. If you share my beliefs and are committed to the same I am more than willing to meet with you, speak with you, work with you and build community with you.
Violence is a virus and accountability is the antidote !
State Representative (Roxbury/Dorchester)