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City activists create Peace Collaborative to reduce violence

Saying they are fed up with stubbornly high rates of violent crime, Boston neighborhood activists from 21 organizations are banding together in an ambitious new umbrella group intent on bringing peace to the city’s streets.

The group, the Peace Collaborative, launched Saturday at a gathering in Dorchester attended by city politicians and activists, who in a series of brief speeches decried the high rate of crime but expressed optimism that the new organization could effect change by pooling resources and coordinating crime reduction initiatives.

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Cindy Diggs, one of the collaborative’s coordinators, said many individual organizations saw funding dry up for several of their recreational youth programs and events.

“A lot of times, young people don’t have enough to do,” she said. “The idle mind is the devil’s workshop. . . . It’s a shame we had to stop putting on events and programs because of money.”

She said part of the Peace Collaborative’s mission is to host large monthly events geared toward neighborhood youths.

In April, the group hopes to host a basketball tournament that will promote peace, Diggs said. The group’s first event, a bake sale, is slated for 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Bayside Expo Center in Dorchester.

Lisa Martin, 34, a Dorchester resident, came to the Saturday launch event with her young son and nephew. She said she hopes the initiative will help Boston residents unite as they did for the Marathon bombing victims.

“The One Fund helped a relatively small group of people,” she said. “We have thousands in this area who are affected by violence. I’ve witnessed it. I’ve seen people shot. I’ve lost family members. It’s kind of a slap in the face. These kids are subjected to trauma, and they need support. We need to look at this as a public health problem.”

Cliff McCollum, 24, also of Dorchester, said he thinks the Peace Collaboration could be effective.

“In Dorchester alone, Roxbury too, there is still a lot of crime,” he said. “If there will be more advocates to push into cuts where you can’t see, then they can speak to those youths that aren’t getting noticed.”

As of Oct. 2, Boston had seen 37 homicides this year, compared to 39 at the same time in 2012, according to police statistics. The shooting of an unidentified man near the intersection of Humboldt Avenue and Seaver Street in Roxbury on Thursday marks Boston’s 38th homicide this year.

Some of the notable organizations participating in the collaborative are the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute; Mothers for Justice and Equality; Greater Love Tabernacle; Baby Girl Entertainment; and Score4More, Inc.

Alyssa Creamer can be reached at
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