Boston police commissioner looking for ideas from clergy to get guns off the street

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said today he was hoping the city’s clergy could come up with ideas to get guns off the street, in an effort to quell the gang violence that has shaken the city this month, claiming four lives since Friday.

“We’ve had an uptick in the violence. Last year, we had about the same amount of shootings, but this year, they’ve been more deadly,” said Evans before heading into a meeting with police officials and religious leaders at Boston police headquarters. “I’m going to challenge the clergy today to come up with some ideas that they can get the toughs in the community to surrender guns.”

The spate of apparently gang-related shootings took the lives of four people in Mattapan, Ashmont, and Dorchester between Friday and Monday.

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Associate Pastor Mark Scott of the Azusa Christian Community said spikes in gang violence are often deliberate escalations, sparked by old feuds between gang members.

“I remember being with some young people one time, and they were saying, ‘We are going to go back and try to shoot people in the head,’” he said. “When we see this kind of pattern, when it’s very intentional, they’re aiming to kill, you’re aiming to hurt. There something going on in that.”

Scott said part of the solution is to go into the prisons and talk to the young people, to get them on the right track before they get back out. Often he said violence on the street is linked to old fights in prison.

But Scott said that while the killings are tragic and upsetting, the city is not in a crisis.

“The city does not feel, to me, like it’s a frightening place, or like it’s coming apart,” he said. “We have to pay attention to this. We have to work hard. ... But we’re not out of control.”