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Faith leaders, ‘outraged’ by street violence in Boston, meet with city officials to discuss solutions

After recent homicides, Mayor Wu hosted an availability about public safety at the Greater Love Tabernacle Church in Dorchester.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Outraged over an uptick in fatal shootings, including that of a 14-year-old boy and two young mothers, faith leaders, city officials, and community organizers met at a Dorchester church Tuesday to identify possible solutions.

City Councilor Brian Worrell said outside Greater Love Tabernacle Church that the group discussed “ . . . what’s been going on in the community, what some of the challenges have been and how to respond.”

In an interview, Worrell said the group is “figuring out what action steps to take” but said he was optimistic about a plan moving forward.

“When you have that many dedicated people all together in one room, it’s bound to be productive,” said Worrell, who represents District 4, which includes parts of Dorchester, Mattapan, Roslindale, and Jamaica Plain.

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The meeting came after three people were shot to death over the weekend in Boston in separate incidents, renewing calls from community leaders for plans to curb gun violence.

As of Monday, 33 people have been victims of homicide in Boston this year, compared to 37 recorded by Oct. 16 last year, police said. Last year, 10 women, seven of whom were Black, were killed, police said. This year, five women, all of whom were Black, have been killed, including two in recent days.

Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, the leaders reiterated the urgent need to address the recent violence.

The Rev. Emanuel L. Hutcherson, executive director of the Greater Love Tabernacle Prison Prevention Ministry, called for immediate solutions.

“Let’s use the services in these programs to prevent all the chaos that’s been going on,” Hutcherson said. “The key word in all this is ‘prevention.’”

Bishop William E. Dickerson II, Greater Love’s pastor, said faith leaders are “still outraged at this uptick in violence. We cannot politicize this and we can’t ignore it away.”

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“We feel the pain of the families involved, and we can do better as a city. It’s up to us to hold each other accountable,” he said. “We’re not here pointing fingers . . . [and] we’re not here to antagonize anyone . . . We’re here to connect and strategize.”

Mayor Michelle Wu’s office said the meeting would be the first of several to address the recent violence.

The city plans to focus resources in the coming weeks, including increased trauma response, violence prevention, and mental health support, officials said.

Initiatives over the summer focused on keeping teens occupied and caring for them outside of school. Wu said, and the priority now must shift to supporting students after school or during holidays.

“We had a record number of [young people] employed in summer jobs in our city . . . but those jobs ended with the summer,” the mayor said. The city’s goal now is “layering and layering support” on students through school and extracurriculars.

“Students are impacted, whether violence happens in their school, on their way to school, on the front steps of their school, or in their home,” said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper.

Skipper added the district is working to reduce absenteeism, increase the number of social workers and restorative justice coordinators, and encourage teenagers who dropped out of school during the pandemic to return.

The weekend’s violence began around 1 a.m., Saturday, when Daniel Sanders, 36, died after being shot near 39 Baird St. in Dorchester, police said.

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Then, about 5 a.m. Sunday, Jasmine Burrell, 33, was fatally shot near her Fairlawn Avenue home in Mattapan. Burrell’s death came one week after 24-year-old Quaaneiruh Goodwyn was shot and killed outside a convenience store on Geneva Avenue in Dorchester. Both women were mothers.

Around 10:30 p.m., Sunday, 21-year-old Christian Thistle-Kavanaugh of Dorchester was fatally shot on Geneva Avenue, the same street as Goodwyn, police said.

No arrests have been made in the killings. So far this year, 10 homicides have been cleared by arrest, compared to 25 last year.

Earlier this month, a 14-year-old boy was shot to death, the third juvenile in Boston to die from gun violence this year, police said. And Jean McGuire, a 91-year-old civil rights and education leader, was stabbed in Franklin Park earlier this month. She survived and managed to fight off her attacker, who remains at large.

Despite the recent shootings, gun violence has declined overall, with 146 victims through Oct. 16 compared to 166 at that point last year, police said Monday. Firearm arrests are keeping pace, with 494 this year compared to 505 through Oct. 16 last year.

Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden said Tuesday that officials have a “real opportunity before us . . . to do what we have done well for so long,” pointing to previous efforts in the city to introduce community policing, alternatives to prosecution, and services for residents returning from state prison.

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Boston police Commissioner Michael Cox said collaboration between law enforcement and community organizers will be essential to addressing neighborhood violence and applauded the work of community leaders for “coming together as we should.”

“Police always have a role to play,” he said, but “these issues are far bigger than traditional law enforcement.”

Travis Andersen of the Globe staff contributed to this report.


Ivy Scott can be reached at ivy.scott@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @itsivyscott. Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.