I suppose it's good that Jahmol Norfleet's death has brought attention back to the violence on Boston's streets -- you know it's serious when the Mayor drags the wheelchair-bound six-year-old out for the cameras, right? But I'll throw a little bit of perspective and information in that seems to be lacking.

1. There have been quite a number of former gangbangers shot down in the past couple of years, some of whom had been 'out of the game' for a lot longer than Norfleet. It happens. You don't get to be a violent gangbanger and then just say you're out. And they know that.

2. Yes, there has been a serious attempt to broker a truce between Heath Street and H-Bloc; there was a similar successful effort in the South End earlier this year, and at least one other that I'm aware of. But there was also a six-month federal sting that led to 18 arrests of Heath Street members and associates a couple months back, that nobody seems to mention.

3. Heath Street has roughly 100 members at any given time. It's been around forever in one form or another. Its members have been "feuding" at one time or another with almost every gang within a few miles. One building in the Bromley-Heath project -- literally, one single apartment building -- was one of Boston's five "hot spots" of gun violence identified by the BPD a year ago. Honest, decent B-H residents terrified for their children constantly beg the city to do something about it; they must be oh-so-thrilled that the city seems to care more about how the Heath Street gang affects Jahmol Norfleet than them.

4. Holworthy Street -- one of the notorious 'triple-H' streets -- has been home to its fair share of gangbangers for at least 15 years, probably longer. The violence wanes and waxes, but there's nothing new about this, and nobody thought this "truce" meant an end to the neighborhood's problems. (One known H-Bloc member was arrested on firearm charges just three weeks before Norfleet was killed.)

5. I know I'm a bit of a broken record on this point, but when the police are making arrests in 20 percent of shooting homicides, and maybe 5 percent of non-fatal shootings, no truce is going to last very long, and pleas to restrain from retaliation fall on deaf ears.

[by David S. Bernstein]


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