A special invitation was sent to emerging leaders in the faith community.
"City government recognizes and appreciates your efforts towards youth violence prevention in the City of Boston. They requested I forward this invitation to you. Please confirm your attendance with me by 3 pm today."
The conference room began to fill with police officers, clergy, and street workers. I admit that as we gathered, I was a little aloof, seldom speaking to those I knew. It was the sort of situation in which I like to distance myself, to figure out who is serious and who isn't.
I assumed that the meeting was called to have a conversation about how we're going to deal with youth violence. I was thinking that we would have a strategic session to share promising practices around gang-involved youth – what's working and what isn't.
I don't know what the hell I was thinking.
A city official walked in with a camera man and a reporter from a local newspaper. You don't need a camera man and a reporter to have a strategic meeting to share promising practices around gang-involved youth. What you need a camera man and reporter for, is to get re-elected. This meeting was about an election.
I was steaming mad; I was boiling over like hot water on a stove.
But I contained myself.
I listened to the Boston Regional Intelligence Center's (BRIC) presentation on crime. It highlighted the most active gangs in the city. And I thought about how ten members from two of Boston's top gangs were meeting at that very moment. I quietly got up, grabbed my notebook and pen, and left.
I drove to the church. There my boys sat in a circle talking with a lawyer, preparing for the life sentences they assume they'll serve; because selling crack is easier than getting employment.
Here the conversation is happening without a camera man and reporter.