Days after the nephew of a longtime peace activist was shot and killed, dozens of members of the community gathered in Uphams Corner to mourn and voice their frustration with violence in their neighborhoods. On Monday night at the Kroc Center, community members packed the cafeteria to hear from police officials and speak out against the violence.
Leroy Carvalho, 31, was the victim of a fatal shooting on Oct. 2 on Albion Street. He was the nephew of Isaura Mendes, who has lost two sons and three other relatives to neighborhood violence.
An emotional Mendes addressed the crowd, yelling, “I want to see no more children killed.”
Kim Odom, whose 13-year-old son Steven was shot and killed in 2007, also spoke. “It’s up to us to end it right here,” she said. “To end it right here.”
Both mayoral candidates – state Rep. Marty Walsh and City Councillor At-Large John Connolly – attended the forum but stayed towards the back of the room. The forum was co-moderated by John Barros, a former mayoral candidate and executive director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, and state Rep. Carlos Henriquez, who was a friend of Carvalho’s.
Henriquez said he met Carvalho after the young man had lost an older brother to violence. Henriquez was working as a manager at a local Kinko’s, and offered him a job there. Henriquez related his struggle with the news of Carvalho’s death, saying he was initially angry and paralyzed by it.
Trauma counselors were available in the room for community members who wanted to talk, and Barros asked reporters who attended the forum to stop recording to provide community members with privacy for their grief.
Daniel Linskey, the police superintendent-in-chief, attended the meeting, as did an official with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Both stayed until the end of the meeting. Mendes approached Linskey after the meeting and thanked him for staying.
In addressing the crowd, Linskey stressed the importance of witnesses coming forward, and said police officials can guarantee anonymity of tips. “We’ll leave no stone unturned,’ he said. “Sometimes, it takes time.”
State Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, former mayoral candidate Charles Clemons, and District 7 Councillor Tito Jackson were among the other officials and community members in the audience for the forum.
“They needed to understand from police what occurred,’ Jackson said. “And they need justice.”
Jackson also voiced a sentiment that was prevalent among some of the community members in the room who noted a disparity in law enforcement officials’ response to the Boston Marathon bombing in April, which killed three people, including Martin Richard, an 8-year-old from Dorchester.
“A life on Boylston street is just as important as a life on Blue Hill Ave. or Dudley Street,” Jackson said. “For me, this is so frustrating because we have buried too many parts of our future,” he added.