Determined to repeat another bloody summer in Boston, clergy are taking the lead in targeting 14 crime hot spots with nighttime walks, community meetings, and prayer vigils, reports the Boston Globe. Ministers also plan an antiviolence youth parade and prayer vigil on June 25. City officials said about 1,000 people are expected to march. High-level city officials have been regularly meeting with clergy about the summer strategy.
Members of the clergy and City Hall want to build on lessons learned during the violent 1990s, when the partnership of city, clergy, and community groups often called the Boston miracle was credited with cutting the number of homicides to 31 in 1999. Last summer, city officials seemed unprepared to deal with a sudden outbreak of violence that began as school ended. Twenty homicides occurred during summer vacation, six of involving teenage victims. For all last year, Boston recorded 64 homicides, the most in all but one year since 1995. There have been 24 homicides so far this year. The Rev. Ray Hammond, who cofounded the Ten Point Coalition that helped put together Boston’s nationally recognized community policing model, said the number of hot spots clergy will target increased from six last summer to 14. The increase is possible because the number of churches involved has more than doubled, from about 20 last year to at least 40.