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Calls for change at Dorchester antiviolence rally

Shake the City rally implores residents to help foster peace

Laya Lesley-Barnes, whose brother Rashad was among five people killed in the city last week, wept during a gathering at Franklin Field in Dorchester on Sunday as participants urged residents to unite for neighborhood safety.TAMIR KALIFA FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE/Globe Staff

About 200 people rallied on Sunday at Franklin Field in Dorchester to support the relatives of five people who were killed last week in Boston, including three women who were gunned down in a car, and to urge residents to work together to make their neighborhoods safer.

Some at the rally, dubbed Shake the City by the organizers, called on residents in areas that are often afflicted by violence to inform community leaders of possible criminal activity before it happens, in an effort to prevent bloodshed.

"We must look at what it is that we're doing to ourselves," said Milton Jones, operations director at the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute in Dorchester. "You could have called me and said, 'Hey, Milt, listen, I know dude 'bout to do this, that or the other thing, maybe you can help out.' And maybe I can."


Jones also criticized people who express hostility about passing along information to police investigating homicides.

"Get that language about snitching out of your vocabulary," he said. "It means absolutely nothing. What that means is, allow our kids to die. Allow our children to die because you don't want to say, 'Look, I saw a blue and red car go down the street.' "

The rally came one week after Genevieve Philip, Sharrice Perkins, and Kristen Lartey, all 22, were fatally shot as they sat in a parked car on Harlem Street in Dorchester. A fourth woman, whom police have not identified, was also shot but survived.

Joanne Paul-Joassainte of Hyde Park, one of Philip's aunts, echoed Jones's sentiments during a brief interview at the rally.

"If I knew something, it would be 911, here's my name," she said. "We keep protecting the killers."

Another of Philip's aunts, Shirley Paul-Philip of Dorchester, said everyone must take a stand against violence in the city.


"This needs to stop," she said. "Because the pain is unbearable."

No arrests have been made in the case.

A police spokeswoman said on Sunday that there were no updates available, except that the investigation is ongoing. Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said last week that investigators believe the attack was probably gang-related and that one of the women was targeted, though he did not say which one.

Two men, Jemald Allen, 34, and Rashad Lesley-Barnes, 24, were also killed last week in separate attacks in Roslindale and Roxbury, respectively. Police have made no arrests in those cases, either.

Minister Rodney Muhammad of the Nation of Islam urged the crowd to help foster a climate of mutual respect among neighbors.

He added that doing so is especially vital in communities of color, areas that he said are often neglected by political leaders.

"What time is it? It's unity time," Muhammad said.

Another speaker, City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, highlighted what she said is a trend of young women becoming involved in violent crime.

"They're not just teasing each other in the hallways anymore, doing cyberbullying," Pressley said. "And many of them are in unhealthy relationships with young men that are gang-affiliated. We have got to be honest about that."

She also said that she wished that the crowd, which was predominantly African-American, had been more diverse.

"Because violence doesn't just belong to black and brown people because we're disproportionately impacted by it," she said.

"Every life that is saved, as a city we can share in that collective victory. But for every life that is lost we need to share in that collective burden and responsibility."


Travis Andersen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.