We must act before it is too late. Do you ever wonder what happen after a violent crime is committed in your city? Do you ever think about the effect such an act could have on the victim’s family?

We are led to believe that America is a safe country; that justice will be served to those who violate the laws. Far too often in inner cities all over this great country, violent criminals are never caught nor being punished by the judicial system. We can blame the elected officials whose primary function is to protect the life of their citizens, but deep within, we must blame ourselves from a lack of involvement in the welfare of our community.

The next door neighbor’s think it is none of their business to cooperate with law enforcement as long as a crime is not perpetrated against them or their loved ones. It is becoming the norm in many communities to give shelters to criminals because we have become so afraid of them. I am wondering what has happened to the common sense of American society. What has happened to the sense of community in this country? In the next few lines I am going to share with you a personal story of a Haitian family in Boston, Massachusetts who lost a loved one to a nonsensical shooting in September and still today the criminal is at large waiting to strike again. I am compelled to share the story of the Belizaire’s family with you because in a way, as a community we can’t afford to keep on losing our brothers and sisters, and yet to still pretend as if they do not matter. It is time that we let our elected officials know that we want to do something about violence that is plaguing our cities. As quick as they are to deport us back home, they should be just as quick to render justice to our families.

We just had an election in our city, which gives the mayor a new mandate. Some of us have some very important questions for our elected officials: what are their plans for dealing with the increasing level of gun violence in our streets? What changes will they make to decrease the number of young people who lost their lives every year due to illegal guns being so readily available? How do they plan to bring a sense of justice to those families who have lost their sons and daughters to the senseless violence that has taken over our communities? These are not rhetorical questions. We need answers and we need them now.

On September 20 2009, 21- year old Carl-Hent’z Belizaire life came to an abrupt end. His mother works as nursing assistant, and his only sister is a senior at the University of Massachusetts-Boston majoring in Biology. He was murdered in Dorchester at the site of a Saturday night bash. Right now, it seems that he is on route to being just another statistic, another young black man victim to gun violence. “Snitches get stitches,” unspoken law of the “hood”. Somehow, our communities as well as our leaders seemed to have reached a place of complacency. A place where homicides are the norm and that is just the way it is. In the United States, our system is such that our elected representatives are supposed to act on our behalf and fight for our rights and for the greater good. It is starting to feel as if this is a hoax. When we give our votes over to the elected officials, are they for show or are they because we really believe in our hearts that they will work for us as they have promised?

As functioning and law-abiding resident of the city of Boston, we must take the initiative for all those who have lost a loved one and for those who are just concerned about the violence in our neighborhoods in asking the newly elected officials: what are they planning on doing differently to decrease street violence and making sure that justice is served by putting the criminals who are responsible for the violence behind bars where they belong?” It is time that the people take a stand and start fighting for the safety of our communities. We cannot sit silently while we lose our youth. We cannot stand idle in fear while our neighborhoods are plagued by insecurity. So once again, if the point of elections is progress and positive change, then we must ask our elected officials to start taking responsibility for the betterment of our communities that they promised as they were seeking elected office. As young people, we have been taught to “vote or die.” For once, I would like to see the true meaning of this dictum comes to realization and that it is indeed true that the right elected leaders can bring the change we all desperately thirst for.

So far this year, many Haitian families had to bury their loved ones due to gun-violence. After the funerals, they must feel very lonely for the community has moved on, while they are left to carry the burden of their lost by themselves.

Families who have lost their loved ones in such tragic conditions need our continual support, and one of the best ways to keep the memories of the victims alive is by seeking justice in their names. In a country that is so well founded on the principles of justice, there is no room for criminals to be running around. It is a community matter, and as a community we must repudiate criminals in our midst and put an end to the shootings. Together, let’s keep our community safe.

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