While Black Lives Matter rises, gang gunfire keeps claiming more lives

It’s become the untenable backdrop to a national movement demanding a reckoning with systematic racism and centuries of sanctioned brutality against black Americans: While thousands have taken to the streets to protest police brutality and a host of racial wrongs, gunfire has exploded in American cities, claiming black lives at an astonishing pace.

In Chicago, 87 people were shot, 17 fatally, over the July 4th weekend.

In Boston, seven people were killed over seven days, a rate that would send the city’s homicide count soaring to more than double the rate seen in the worst days of gang- and crack-fueled gun violence in the early 1990s, if it keeps up.

“Violence will never be accepted as normal in Boston,” Mayor Marty Walsh said yesterday, following a run in which it is becoming just that.

For Joyce Ferriabough Bolling, a veteran black political strategist and Roxbury resident, the dueling images have become painful.

“As I celebrate the Black Lives Matter signs painted on streets here in Nubian Square and in cities across the country such as Washington, DC; Atlanta; and New York, it is hard not to notice a bitter irony,” wrote Ferriabough Bolling in her regular op-ed column in the Boston Herald.

She says violence “in our own backyards” has been a long-running pandemic in black and brown communities. “If Black Lives do indeed Matter, we must embrace that as a worthy mantra in fighting this pandemic,” she writes. “Today as we march against police brutality and fight a pandemic that takes more Black and brown lives than any other demographic,” she says of the coronavirus, “the shootings in our neighborhoods continue with wild abandon, taking life after Black and brown life.”

Among those lives claimed over the past week: 15 year-old Xhavior Rico, shot to death on July 2 on a Roxbury street.

“He was amazing at science,‘’ his mother told the Globe. “He built an electric car when he was 7 years old. He put on all the tires and the wires” using a kit.

“My son was murdered,” Toni Rico said. “Why? Why? Why?”

Police Commissioner William Gross, working hard to maintain the department’s ties to the black community amid national protests about police abuse of black residents, commended the public for providing information that helped police make quick arrests in two of the seven recent homicides. But preventing murders, not just solving them, has to be the ultimate goal.

Ferriabough Bolling said some have argued that the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality and the plague of violence within the black community are entirely distinct issues.

“I believe there is a socio-psychological connection to be made because the overwhelming premise is the same: If Black Lives Matter, they MUST matter everywhere,” she wrote.

MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

Massachusetts received nearly 59,000 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims since the pandemic’s start. (WBUR)

The Baker administration says it’s looking into allegations that the state commissioner for the deaf wore KKK-like robes at the now-suspended college fraternity he was a member of. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Mayor Marty Walsh says Boston may be the first city that “truly recovers from COVID-19.” (Boston Herald)

In a Globe op-ed, Walsh touts the city’s fight against the pandemic and racism.

The former town accountant in Uxbridge, Justin Cole, is indicted for stealing more than $729,000 from three towns. (Telegram & Gazette)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The state is bracing for high rates of the mosquito-borne disease EEE this year. (Associated Press)

A Smith College team takes top place in ventilator design competition. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The Washington Post gets an early copy of the tell-all book by President Trump’s niece, who says a dysfunctional family upbringing stunted Trump’s “ability to develop and experience the entire spectrum of human emotion.”

Churches, which were eager to reopen across the country, are now a major source of new coronavirus cases. (New York Times)

More than 100 leading thinkers of the left and right sign a letter defending freewheeling debate and warning against impulses on the left to stifle speech in ways that they say echo the illiberalism of President Trump and his allies on the right. (Harper’s)

ELECTIONS

President Trump’s consistent attacks on mail-in voting may undercut Republican candidates if GOP voters become wary of tapping the approach to casting ballots. (Washington Post)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Massachusetts’ unemployment benefits system detected 58,000 fraudulent claims, part of a nationwide scam, and recovered $158 million. (MassLive)

In something of a welcome problem, black-owned bookstores, including the Frugal Bookstore in Roxbury, are struggling to keep up with customer demand. (WGBH News)

The owner of a Plymouth juice bar sues Gov. Charlie Baker over state requirements that she, her employees, and her customers wear masks. (The Patriot Ledger)

EDUCATION

Harvard and MIT filed suit Wednesday to block the Trump administration from barring foreign students from the country if all classes are offered online at their institution. (Boston Globe)

During a legislative hearing, child care providers say they need more public money to stay afloat while complying with new coronavirus-related guidelines. (MassLive)

Members of a Boston Public Schools task force on equity are angry that the district announced plans for a new vendor providing the test used for exam school admissions just days after the panel voted to urge suspension of the test this year because of the impact of the pandemic on black and Hispanic students. (Boston Globe)

Race issues continue to roil the waters at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden. (Boston Globe)

ARTS/CULTURE

While more sports programs are allowed to resume, organized football, basketball and soccer games are still prohibited. (MassLive)

Some movie theaters are delaying reopening, because new movies are slow to come out. (Patriot Ledger)

TRANSPORTATION

The state Department of Transportation was officially handed the reins to oversee and have ongoing responsibility for the massive project to replace both bridges over the Cape Cod Canal. (Cape Cod Times)

US Rep. Ayanna Pressley pushes for transit justice, which she equates to racial justice. (Dorchester Reporter)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

US Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia visited Boston Tuesday to announce a $90 million grant program to pay for job training for people who are incarcerated and to help them find jobs upon release. One of the first recipients was the Essex County sheriff’s office. (The Salem News)

State courts will restart some in-person proceedings July 13, with restrictions on who can enter courthouses. (MassLive)

The Springfield police revoke — then reinstate — a Springfield DJ’s license to carry a gun due to controversial social media posts. (MassLive)