Leaders express outrage, ask for help

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By Andrew Ryan and Milton J. Valencia
Globe Staff / September 29, 2010

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Boston’s civic leaders and clergy faced a bank of cameras again yesterday to decry another unspeakable crime, pleading for help solving an attack so callous it left a toddler dying in his dead mother’s arms.

They expressed anger. They vowed a tireless quest for justice. And they tried to rally their city to fight back against a tide of wanton violence this year that has struck down 14-year-old youths and seen a pizza deliveryman lured to his death in an abandoned house.

“Boston is strong, and we will fight,’’ Mayor Thomas M. Menino said at a news conference after warning the “cowards’’ who pulled the trigger that they could not hide. “This is our home. Our families live here. We will not let this kill our spirit.’’

The four killings early yesterday morning resonated from the yellow crime-scene tape strung across Woolson Street in Mattapan to City Hall, from community centers to pulpits across the city. The death of the toddler pushed the reaction beyond outrage, as elected officials and ministers struggled to make sense of such a depraved act of violence.

“For someone to feel like they can shoot a . . . child and the child’s mother is just reprehensible to me. Absolutely reprehensible,’’ said the Rev. Jeffrey L. Brown, executive director of the Boston TenPoint Coalition, a group of clergy working to break the “culture of violence’’ that grips some neighborhoods. “People do not have a right to do this. This is not something we should allow in our communities any longer.’’

Beyond the heartache of the victims’ families, the crime will also have a lasting impact on the young people of Mattapan, said City Councilor Charles C. Yancey, who was first elected to represent the neighborhood in 1983.

“It’s horrible. This is a community’s worst nightmare’’ Yancey said. “But I believe that the community will come together.’’

The violence underscored the need for more resources in the neighborhood, Yancey said, noting that recent budget cuts closed two nearby community centers.

At noon, a handful of black ministers met on Woolson Street, almost 12 hours after gunfire erupted in the dead of night. Ducking out of the drizzle, the ministers encouraged people to step up and help police find the perpetrators. At the same time they tried to soothe the community’s pain.

“I encourage everyone to pray with the clergy and share your hurt and pain,’’ said the Rev. William E. DickersonII, pastor of Greater Love Tabernacle in Dorchester. He urged people to “believe in the community that we can do better than this.’’

But for those working the streets to combat violence, the shootings were particularly hard to take.

“This is not your regular gang stuff,’’ said James Dauphine, a street worker at Ella J. Baker House. “This is an older man’s crime. This is not a young man’s crime. This is a crime of evil.’’

At the news conference, District Attorney Daniel F. Conley pressed for help with the investigation, saying that “in light of these horrible facts, silence is not a moral option.’’

Menino spoke at the same event at police headquarters, driving directly from the airport after flying in early from New York City. The mayor canceled his appearance at an education summit and rushed back to Boston after learning of the shootings.

Crime has hit Menino particularly hard in September, since the killing earlier in the month of the deliveryman, whose two daughters worked in the mayor’s office at City Hall. Yesterday’s shootings seemed to hit a similar nerve.

“This is a tough one,’’ he said, stepping away from the podium. Then he turned his attention back to the assailants.


Andrew Ryan can be reached at; Valencia at

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