Dorchester pastor calls on Boston city council, mayor, local religious leaders to end violence in the city
One local church leader says it’s time for political and religious leaders to come together and demonstrate “moral authority” to put an end to crime and violence in Boston.
“We’re not even in the summer and we’ve got these ridiculous numbers,” said Dorchester’s Rev. Eugene Rivers on Friday, referencing a recent uptick in reported violent crime, including the desecration of a gravestone in what the police say may have been motivated by gangland retaliation.
“This Resurrection weekend, when kids are getting killed in the street, the churches more than any other institution in this city, especially the black churches, we have to do more. We have to do better,” he said.
Rivers called on the prophet Amos to summarize his feelings about local Black leadership on the issue of violence that Rivers said has gotten out of hand in the city’s worst neighborhoods: “I hate all your show and pretense — the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies … Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.”
Rivers has been on the forefront in challenging what he sees as mistaken policy by the city’s leaders that do nothing to ease violent tensions in some Boston neighborhoods.
He spoke to the Herald on this issue following a Friday afternoon press conference at the Ella J. Baker House in Dorchester’s Four Corners neighborhood, the same place he helped to launch the “Black Mothers for Peace Initiative” to argue for armed police to be reinstated into Boston schools, and where the long-running Violence Reduction Task Force meets.
He said that the neighborhood has come a long way from being Boston’s version of what East Baltimore viewers saw on HBO’s “The Wire” but that there is plenty more to go in ensuring that further progress can be made in the city.
“This afternoon I issued an appeal, a prayer and a challenge to the Black churches across the city that we need to be engaged,” Rivers said Friday. “Every Black and brown member of the city council must step forward and articulate their plan for how we establish safety in the public schools.”
Rivers said he specifically called out city council members of color to come up with a plan because they “say they represent the political leadership of the Black community. That’s their claim. That being the case, they need to exhibit leadership by producing plans which generate measurable outcomes.”
Those plans, he said, should be reviewed and commented on by members of Boston’s Black community.
“We need Mayor Wu to advance her violence prevention strategy and plan and have the black community evaluate it since we are the ones most dramatically impacted by this,” he said, “the same way that if there were programs being devised for women, those programs would not be advanced without getting the feedback of people in that community.”
To political leaders he says “those who fail to plan, plan to fail” and to the church leadership of Boston, he said that Sunday’s celebration of Easter, which represents Jesus’ bodily return, is just the symbol the faithful need to rally for change.