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Community leaders pledge to help curb Dorchester gun violence

Surrounded by local religious and political leaders outside St. Peter’s Church in Dorchester, pastor Father Jack Ahern speaks April 12 about the need to work together to reduce gun violence in the neighborhood. Pilot photo/ Jim Lockwood

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DORCHESTER -- In the wake of three recent killings, religious and community leaders, including officials from the Archdiocese of Boston, pledged April 12 to work together in reducing gun violence in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood.

Gathered outside, officials and one neighborhood teenager reacted to the prevalence of gun violence in the neighborhood and what should be done to curb it.

“Working together, we can bring about some healing and hope for the community, especially for the young among us,” St. Peter’s pastor Father Jack Ahern said in the opening remarks.

“Let’s make this a neighborhood where everybody has a brighter future, especially the young people,” Boston Mayor Thomas Menino added. “We are a united front. We are not going to let anybody divide us.”

Following the meeting, Father Ahern said the neighborhood witnessed three shootings over the last month, and each victim’s funeral was at his church.

The third incident remains under investigation by the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.

Tiziana Dearing, President of Catholic Charities Boston, pledged her organization’s support in curbing gun violence in the Dorchester community.

“We all have the same goal at heart, which is a joyous, peaceful life for all in this community,” she said.

Nilda Amato, 17, a junior at Boston Latin Academy and a friend of one of the recent shooting victims, summed up the sentiments of how gun violence affects the neighborhood’s young people.

“I’m fed up,” she said. “I’m tired of having to wake up and find someone who is close to me getting shot.”

Other officials who spoke at the press conference were St. Peter’s Teen Center Director Paolo Debarros, Boston Ten Point Coalition Executive Director Rev. Jeffrey Brown, Rep. Marie St. Fleur (D-Boston), State Sen. Jack Hart (D-Boston), and John Barras of Boston’s Cape Verdean community.

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