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Black Clergy Demand Justice In Redistricting Proposals

Religious leaders and advocates for minority communities called on Gov. Deval Patrick Thursday to reject any redistricting maps that fail to “amplify” the voice of black, Latino and Asian residents of Massachusetts, arguing that they have long been underrepresented in Congress and in the state Legislature.

Through prayers and pointed pleas, members of the Boston clergy – including Rev. William Dickerson and Rev. Jeffrey Brown – joined former Green Rainbow candidate for governor Jill Stein, Rep. Denise Andrews (D-Orange) and redistricting activist Kevin Peterson to demand “fairness” and “justice” for minorities as lawmakers redraw political boundaries.

“I believe, and I am praying, that the plans that come out are going to be fair and equitable,” said Tito Jackson, a member of the Boston City Council.

Participants in the “faith-based event” stood in front of the Robert Shaw Civil War Memorial and pointed collectively at the State House to emphasize at whom their message was aimed.

Members of the Legislature’s Redistricting Committee are eyeing an October release of a proposal to redraw the state’s Congressional and state legislative districts, a task complicated by the loss of one of the state’s 10 Congressional seats due to national population shifts. The committee has held more than a dozen hearings around the state this year to gather feedback on potential district boundaries.

Teen, Mother Were Slain After A Grand Jury Date

Investigators believe the homicides are connected and have been examining whether Sanchez’s appearance at the courthouse could have led to his death, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the case.

It was unclear what, if anything, Sanchez told authorities about the June 5 shooting, which left another man injured. Although the officials told the Globe that Sanchez was brought to court in the hope he would testify, Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, said that Sanchez was “not a cooperating witness’’ in Martinez’s homicide or any other slaying.

Diomedes Pimentel, who lost his daughter and grandson in the shooting, said a relative told him that the two went to court together but was unaware of what transpired there.

They died “savagely,’’ he said. “You never think something like this can happen.’’

The killing of Sanchez and his mother, Elvira Pimentel, 43, has renewed concerns about the risks of providing police with information about crimes, a longstanding problem in many Boston neighborhoods. It also underscores the struggle of witnesses who must decide whether to come forward when they live in neighborhoods where even the perception that one has cooperated with authorities can be deadly.

To Britain’s Leader, Hub A Model For Antiviolence

When Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament yesterday he would turn to Boston for lessons in quelling angry riots in London, he caused some head-scratching on this side of the pond.

Was he referring to the Boston Miracle of nearly 15 years ago? Or to the peaceful celebration that followed the Bruins’ triumph this summer while angry fans took to the streets in Vancouver? Is any recent Boston unrest comparable to the London riots, where disenfranchised youths have seized on concerns about police violence to launch mayhem, burning storefronts and stealing flat-screen TVs?

Those involved in Boston’s celebrated 1990s anticrime program were unsurprised, saying the London uprising points to a civil breakdown that demands a new strategy for community policing.

“Violence is deeply rooted in how people feel like they’ve been denied in society. It’s more than just criminality,’’ said the Rev. Jeffrey Brown, executive director of the Ten Point Coalition, a faith-based community group that works with young people and that partnered with government and law enforcement officials to reduce violence in Boston.

Overcoming The Obstacles To Faith-based Approaches To Crime

We now have data confirming what objective and open-minded observers already knew: that religious commitment and faith-based approaches, as well as the transformative power of faith itself, can be central in reducing crime. We also know that intentional partnerships between communities of faith and law enforcement can lead to dramatic improvement in police-community relations and subsequent reductions in youth violence and gang activity.

The story of what would eventually be called the “Boston Miracle” symbolizes what can happen when concerned congregations and clergy unite to forge long-term and reciprocal partnerships with police and other public agencies in addressing youth violence. In 1990, after youth homicides had hit an all-time high in the greater Boston area, a group of African-American ministers partnered with government agencies and other community-based groups to respond to the violence and gang activity. Youth homicides not only decreased, but for some 18 months, there were no youth homicides in Boston.

Today, more than a decade later, this partnership remains strong and active. Rev. Jeffrey Brown, one of the early leaders of this collaboration, left his role as pastor to pursue this cause full-time. He is now the executive director of the Boston TenPoint Coalition, whose mission is to mobilize the community on behalf of a primarily African-American and Latino population at high risk for violence, drug abuse, and other destructive behavior.

Norristown Church Members Hit Streets In Antiviolence Effort

On one of the hottest nights of the year and amid a chilling two weeks of violence, a group of Norristown church members walked the streets of the community with a simple intent: to be seen.

Two young people had been shot and killed in Norristown within nine days. The 20 men and women walked in an effort to curb the violence, but not by overt preaching from the good book.

“As members of churches, we tend to turn the city over and not be out at night,” Ralph Gordon said Friday as he stood on the corner of Marshall and George Streets, with the temperature over 90 degrees. “This is an effort to go out and see what’s happening and engage the youth, instead of always saying, ‘You need to be in church.’ ”

The Friday and Saturday night walks, from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., are part of an antiviolence initiative called Seasons of Peace. The effort began in June, when the Greater Norristown Area Ministerium organized a weekend antiviolence event.

The centerpiece was a workshop led by the Rev. Jeffrey Brown, founder of the Boston TenPoint Coalition, a faith-based nonprofit whose plan to help at-risk youth has been adopted in other cities.

The plan, which has a strong antiviolence component, includes the nighttime walks, mentoring, and building partnerships with government and social agencies.

Youth Gang Violence Prevention Ten Years After The Boston Miracle

At the height of the national youth gun violence epidemic in 1996, the city of Boston became famous for implementing a strategy that was given credit by many for reducing the youth homicide rate to zero, and keeping it there for several years. The strategy was called Operation Cease Fire and was coordinated by a working group consisting of representatives from the Boston Police Department, Probation, the District Attorney and U.S. Attorney’s office, many other criminal justice agencies, social service agencies, ministers from neighborhood churches (known as the TenPoint Coalition) and researchers from the Kennedy School of Government. The key elements of Cease Fire included:

  • Regular working group meetings that were used to analyze data on gang violence and develop plans for reducing it;
  • Announcements and publicizing of the Cease Fire, and plans to enforce it;
  • Enhanced enforcement by all agencies against gangs found to have violated the Cease Fire;
  • Mobilization of community support for the strategy, particularly by the TenPoint Coalition, that regularly walked the neighborhoods;