Boston gang truce seen as breaking down

Aug. 16, 2010 at 1:29 PM
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BOSTON, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- A truce between two rival Boston gangs, once hailed as a historic success, has unraveled with the shooting death of a 14-year-old student, authorities say.

Community leaders and police say the shooting of honors student Jaewon Martin in May destroyed the truce negotiated in 2006 between two violent city gangs, the H-Block and the Heath Street gangs, The Boston Globe reported Monday.

Members of the H-Block gang apparently targeted Martin, who had no gang ties, as he hung out on a basketball court frequented by their Heath Street rivals, the newspaper said.

"It's a shame it didn't last,'' Bob Francis, co-chairman of a local Safety Task Force, said of the truce. "You could see the results when the peace initiative was in place. You could see it in the crime reports. You could see it in the community.''

The shooting of Martin was the third killing connected to the gang feud since peace negotiations between the gangs four years ago put a temporary end to the deadly warfare.

Such truces are always fragile, Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis acknowledged, but if they result in even a few months without violence it means success, he said.

"If we can get a season, and what I mean by that is a summer or a fall, we consider that a major victory,'' Davis said. "I don't think we're looking at long-term commitments to non-violence among this cohort of people. We're looking at the short-term and trying to get them to rethink their retaliatory ways.''

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