Case #1887.0

Revisiting Gang Violence in Boston

Publication Date: November 15, 2007
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On the night of November 28, 2006, Reverend Jeffrey Brown, a Baptist minister and co-founder of the Ten Point Coalition in Boston, Massachusetts, received bad news: 20-year-old Jahmol Norfleet, a leader in one of Boston's warring gangs, had been shot and killed near his home. Norfleet's death did not simply represent one more grim statistic in a year marred by gang violence in Boston: it threatened to undo a fragile truce between two gangs that had been locked in a deadly feud for years. Brown, along with a handful of police and other officials, had been instrumental in coaxing gang members, Norfleet among them, to the table and forging peace between the rival groups. Less than a decade earlier, the so-called Boston miracle — a dramatic decline in homicides, especially among the city's youth — was singled out by President Clinton as a model for the rest of the nation. Among the heroes of that miracle were Brown and his fellow co-founders of the Ten Point Coalition, a group of African American clergymen. In addition to walking the most dangerous streets in the city in an effort to reach out to gang members, Brown and other Coalition members had also become participants in a citywide initiative--Operation Ceasefire, a partnership of the Boston police, probation officers, court officials, youth workers, prosecutors, academics, and others--which was widely credited with the steep in gang-related killings. The success had brought national and international acclaim, but ultimately led to a fracturing of both the Coalition and the Operation Ceasefire alliance. Now, faced with a resurgence in gang shootings, Brown, along with others who had participated in Operation Ceasefire, sought not only to revive the strategies that had proved so successful in the past, but also to find new ways to halt the cycle of retaliatory killings that had brought Boston's homicide rate to a ten-year high.

Other Details

Case Author:
Esther Scott
Faculty Lead:
Peter Zimmerman
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States