Benzan

Benzan

From Vice Mayor Dennis Benzan, Aug. 13, 2015: Another act of violence has taken the life of a human being in our city. Last night, one of our fellow Cantabrigians was struck by multiple gunshots and killed on Windsor Street, near the corner of Main Street in Area IV, locally known as The Port. This is the area where I grew up, that I call home, an area with one of the highest poverty rates in the city, and where there have been nearly a half-dozen murders dating back to 1990.

During these terrible tragedies, it is vital that we come together as a community – that we unite to renew our resolve as a city. But it is equally vital that we cooperate with law enforcement so that we may bring justice to those inflicting terror on our neighborhoods.

Cambridge, with all its opportunities, all its diversity, all its wonders, helped make me who I am. It supported my first efforts as a leader when, in 1990, I joined a group of fellow Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School students to form S.A.V.E. – Students Against Violence and for Equality – in response to the violent deaths of two young men in the community: Jessie McKie and Rigoberto Carriòn.

We must continue to create opportunities and potential for our youths so they may have the promise of a brighter tomorrow. Through my leadership and that of many of my colleagues on the City Council, we brought the community together to develop policy around science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics workforce training to help address issues of inequality and make certain our young people have a path from the public housing of Newtowne Court and Washington Elms to the innovation economy.

We know that structural and institutional racism are real, and that rates of poverty are tied to rates of violence. But in addition to addressing these issues and creating more opportunities for our residents of all ages, we must also transform the culture of violence that plagues our neighborhoods – a cultural predicated on a fundamental lack of respect for human life.

Only when we create opportunities for our youth, address structural inequalities and attack the culture of violence simultaneously will we be able to create the change we need to end violence in our community forever.

My thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences go out to the family of Rasaun Nichols, who at age 31 died senselessly and far too young. I wish his family, friends and loved ones all the healing they need as they process this horrible crime and cope with their tremendous loss. Cambridge is with you.