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Harvard group urges antiviolence efforts

Holding lit candles while wearing black suits and dresses, members of the Harvard Black Students Association visited Boston last night to add their voices to the chorus of those challenging Governor Deval Patrick to combat black-on-black youth violence.

About 25 members of the group stood before a small crowd of community members and news media representatives at Washington Park in Roxbury, where Pop Warner football coach Myron Stovell was shot Saturday afternoon. After speaking to the crowd, the students visited the family of Steven Odom, a 13-year-old who was fatally shot Oct. 4 near his home in Dorchester,

"It is a sad day in our community when a football field becomes a danger zone," said Sarah Lockridge-Steckel, the student association's president, who hails from Detroit.

"As lives are tragically taken and dreams are deferred, we are concerned about the violence that is occurring in communities across the state," she said.

Last week, the group sent a letter to Patrick expressing concern about violence in the state. The letter challenged the governor to create a comprehensive strategy to combat youth and gang violence in Massachusetts.

"Why are the streets of some major cities in a Third World country safer than those" [in Boston? asked Malcolm Rivers of Dorchester, the group's political action chairman and son of the Rev. Eugene Rivers.

The governor's office released a statement shortly after the crowd left Washington Park, stating that in his first nine months in office, "the governor has infused millions of dollars in new resources into cities across the state for new police, summer jobs, and violence prevention initiatives," according to the statement read by Deputy Press Secretary Rebecca Deusser. "But more still needs to be done," the statement said, "and this administration is committed to working with the Legislature, mayors, and concerned residents across the state to continue this concerted effort to battle urban violence."

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