|I never feel safe until the NOI is on the case.
Roxbury residents are quite accustomed to the crack of gunfire. The sound rarely provokes much attention unless it is close by. After years of carnage the shootings have become commonplace, but periodically a murder profoundly violates the sensibilities of the community.
Civilized societies usually provide some special protections for their women, the fairer sex and the progenitors of the next generation. Consequently, the mass slaughter of women is especially repugnant. The recent shooting of four women on Harlem Street with the murder of three, offended the community.
Once again people are wondering what happened to the Boston Miracle of 2000 when the city had the lowest urban murder rate in the country. In a moment of enlightenment at the funeral for one of the Harlem Street victims Bishop John M. Borders III, the pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church, is reported to have explained, “Violent criminals are not afraid of police, of the clergy, of politicians, or jail.”
With that statement, Borders acknowledged a truth that had evaded the Christian clergy since they were hailed by the media as the ones primarily responsible for the Boston Miracle. Indeed they played a significant role with their programs to influence at risk youth before they became serious gang bangers. But as Borders pointed out, once the youth crossed the line and became violent criminals they could not be constrained by fear of the clergy.
A positive aspect of fear is respect. Anyone who understands the street culture knows that most gang bangers respect the Nation of Islam (NOI). One reason for that is the decades-long involvement of the NOI in working with those who are imprisoned. Also, those intent on criminal conduct know that it would be foolhardy even to think of attacking the NOI.
Without diminishing the importance of the work of many Christian ministers and members of their congregations, it is known by community activists that the NOI was greatly responsible for much of the success of the Boston Miracle. In order to diminish youth violence in the future, it makes sense to mobilize as fully as possible the involvement of the NOI. Of course there should also be continued support for the Christian church projects to save at risk youth from taking that fateful step into violent crime.
The cold blooded shooting of four female friends sitting in a car has induced residents to do something more significant than the traditional memorial march through the community. It is time to call for the reenlistment of the NOI in the effort to curb juvenile crime.
Some years ago, Boston residents became alarmed when the murder rate for victims 24 years old and under rose and reached 72 in 1990. Nine years later the rate had dropped to 15 after continuing intervention by the NOI to resolve gang conflicts. The NOI was able to succeed primarily after establishing a close liaison with the Boston Police Department.
There has always been concern from some quarters that the success of the NOI would raise their status and help them to proselytize new members. However, the demands for self discipline imposed on members of the NOI have always limited recruitment. It is that paramilitary discipline of the men of the NOI that makes them effective in combating crime.
It should be clear by now that there will be no peace without the active involvement of the NOI. The community should insist upon official acceptance of their full participation.