Boston’s City Council made a point of listening yesterday at a riveting hearing on urban violence that overflowed with 200 people, many of them mothers of homicide victims wearing on their lapels buttons with photos of their dead children, the Boston Globe reports. Public officials accustomed to dominating the microphones took their turn in the audience. They heard a collective cry for help, help stopping the bloodshed, help properly burying the dead, help overcoming their grief.
The survivors provided what the Globe called a searing look into the emergency rooms, funeral parlors, and kitchen table conversations of families torn by homicide. The issue was highlighted by a recent wave of violence that took the lives of several young people, including two 14-year-old boys. The families who spoke offered concrete recommendations for how government, law enforcement, and other organizations can ease the pain, such as assigning a victim's advocate to the family of every person slain; starting a city victims' fund to defray burial costs; regulating knives sold at corner stores; and urging the news media to wait for complete information before identifying a homicide victim as a gang member. “I think that too often, despite our best intentions, we don't do a good job of listening,'' said Councilor Ayanna Pressley, who organized the standing-room-only hearing.