The following letter was submitted to Malden Patch for publication.
There are so many wonderful things about living in Malden, Massachusetts. The cultural diversity of our city is, to me, the centerpiece of Malden’s laudable features. The rich tapestry of languages and cultures overlap in all of our public spaces. Our community events are well attended by a mosaic of people from differing social and economic locations, a veritable united nations represented. Our schools, most recently rated some of the best in the country, attract many students. And, oh yes, the escalating gun violence?
Woven within Malden’s landscape is the darker aura of crime and illegal activities that are, unfortunately, as distinct as all that is great. A simple walk to the T station is all one needs to see the desperate poverty, drug abuse and homelessness that exist here in our city. Without sounding glib, most cities consist of a portion of the population who are struggling, at least in the places where I have grown up. This is to me, an indication of a failed economy as well as the social malaise that has accompanied us throughout the millennia. However, this is not the problem in my mind.
When, as a mother of three-year-old twin boys, I am frightened for the safety of my family: this is the problem.
I am baffled by the horrendous disregard for human life that this summer’s violence has exposed: Drive-by shootings (merely hours apart) and an endless parade of helicopters, police sirens and gunfire. The gunfights in Malden where residents are dodging bullets, setting off on manhunts and of course our most recent shooting: a planned meeting between young teen boys in the break of day and in plain sight. one hooded boy shooting another while riding his bicycle in the early hours of the morning on a weekday.
This is the most discouraging criminal element of all.
Every community suffers crime, however, crime that occurs so blatantly, so comfortably in the middle of the morning amongst teenagers on a corner is what frightens this Malden resident the most.
Are we living in a place whose lack of legal limits and consequences are breeding this type of crime? And if so what can we do about this?
It was astounding to me that I was personally ushered out of the open spaces of my children’s preschool playground to avoid running into the perpetrator of the shooting.
To help my children avoid potentially being hurt? This is where we live? A place where we are frightened to take our children outside? A place where we are frightened to send our children to school?
I hope not.
Malden is capable of being so much better than this, I cannot help but think that are solutions that need to be in place, and that we, as a city, need to project a climate of intolerance to the gun violence that is being perpetrated on the people of this city. The Mayor along with governmental support, need to make Malden an inhospitable environment for guns and the people who wield them. A tougher and more visible police presence and a community dedicated to creating safe spaces for families and individuals proud to call Malden their home.
I have to believe that there are solutions to the mounting gun violence right here in our backyard, I have to think that this matters not only to me, to my neighbors, but to the people in charge. What else needs to happen for this to be a priority?