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Wu meets with community leaders over ‘troubling’ youth violence trend

Following a wave of minor-involved shootings in the city, the mayor and city representatives met with faith and community leaders Tuesday afternoon to discuss steps to address the issues.

The meeting followed three fatal shootings in Boston over the weekend.

“There is a depth of need here,” said Mayor Michelle Wu, adding this will be the first of many meetings to connect leaders and discuss needed resources and strategies.

Shootings in the city have continued a downward trend in the last year — from 169 in the first 10 months of 2021 to 152 in 2022, according to BPD crime statistics released Tuesday.

Despite the positive trend, many shootings have taken a “troubling” turn, Wu said, as more young people are getting their hands on guns. The number of shootings involving minors this year has already outpaced all of 2021.

The shift, leaders said, calls for a greater response in schools and directed at children and families.

Superintendent Mary Skipper pointed to renewed re-engagement efforts at BPS, looking to get kids who dropped out during COVID-19 back into classes. The district is also aiming to address “chronic absenteeism” running rampant following the pandemic.

Speakers also pointed to the need for trauma response and mental health strategies.

“The mental health epidemic that is in the wake of the COVID pandemic is certainly here with us,” said Wu. Following the weekend shootings, she noted, trauma response units were on hand to assist individuals directly and indirectly impacted by the violence.

Wu also noted the success of the “Youth Summer Jobs” and “Neighborhood Ambassadors” programs in engaging young people and said the city is reinvesting in a collaborative social service and mental health care unit to be on hand for any student impacted by violence.

The goal, Wu said, is to “layer on” as much support as possible.

State Rep. Russell Holmes said this isn’t truly a problem for politicians to solve, pointing to a need to invest in nonprofits already doing the work with communities.

The high-profile tragic shootings — some at schools or involving young children — have stirred deep fear in the community, advocates said Tuesday, often over-fed by the media.

Police Commissioner Michael Cox emphasized that though any incident is “devastating,” violence is at “historic, positive” lows in the city.

Bishop William Dickerson, who hosted the event at Greater Love Tabernacle Church, called the meeting “productive” and said the community members weren’t there to point fingers.

“The city is coming together on this,” Cox said, “as we should.”

A roadside memorial for shooting victim is seen in Mattapan. (Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)
A roadside memorial for shooting victim is seen in Mattapan. (Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)

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