The Codcast: The everyday terrorism of urban gun violence
Just over a week ago, 17-year-old Raekwon Brown was fatally gunned down just steps from Jeremiah Burke High School in Dorchester, where he was a student. Three others, including a 67-year-old woman, were wounded. The shooting, which took place in broad daylight after a fire alarm emptied students onto the street near the school, was a reminder of the daily toll of urban gun violence — and of the terrorism-like quality it often has, as a calm and seemingly ordinary moment suddenly turns to a mini-war zone.
In the days that followed, as police begged, with little apparent success so far, for tips about the shooting from those who were on the street, it has also become a reminder of the “stop snitching” culture that makes it hard to solve crimes in the neighborhoods most affected by gun violence. There are all sorts of reasons why people are reluctant to come forward. But in the end, we can’t accept that as the status quo, say Rev. Bruce Wall of Dorchester Temple Baptist Church and Emmett Folgert of the Dorchester Youth Collaborative.
“We could do something about this,” says Folgert. “We’ve been through this with the Code of Silence in Charlestown, with Whitey Bulger, with ‘omerta’ — the Italian gangs. Every time you get real solid gang formation, it short-circuits our criminal justice system. We might as well not even live in America. Warlords start operating in these tiny areas. It’s not all of Dorchester. It’s not all of Roxbury. But if you have the misfortune to live there, you are living in a war zone.”
“Folk have normalized the shootings,” says Wall. “Yes, we have these horrific [mass] shootings around the country. If we have one, two, three, or four here, that’s just as bad, in my opinion. One is just as bad.”
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