The Safe Homes Initiative: Safe for Whom?

By Adrienne from Boston

This 'initiative' began in late March 2008. Despite overwhelming opposition from community members, non-profits and elected officials alike, the Boston Police Department maintains that the 'intent of this program is to save lives by recovering firearms from youth that would not otherwise come to the attention of the police."

Hmm. And how do they go about doing this? By "seeking voluntary consent from their parents to allow police to search for illegal firearms." In words not taken from the BPD brochure on the program, the BPD is conducting warrantless, unconstitutional searches in low income neighborhoods of color, using the pretense of "consent" from parents to waive their rights and "participate" in the program to excuse their inexcusable intrusions.

The atrocity of this program is intensified when one considers the demographics actually involved in Boston's shootings.

"If we know that the majority of shootings are not done by juveniles, then why are we searching only juveniles' homes?" said Lisa Thurau-Gray of the Juvenile Justice Center at Suffolk Law.

Jamarhl Crawford, chairman of Boston's New Black Panther Party, notes the "fundamental disrespect" from the BPD. "Not one Black elected official supported this initiative, but the police department still wants to roll it out."

A hearing took place in June at the City Hall about a "Resolution Regarding the Boston Police Department," asking that the BPD to either "add blanket immunity from prosecution to its "Safe Homes" program or ensure that the "consent to search" is indeed voluntary by making police visits to homes informational only, with parents being asked to call them if they would like for a search to be conducted."

This modification would make the program only slightly less atrocious. The police occupation of neighborhoods and streets is bad enough without extending their occupation into the private homes of people already subject to egregious State repression.

May I also mention that as of this writing, Boston has only experienced 33 homicides in 2008, as opposed to Philadelphia's 165, LA's 193, and New York City's 250? Just sayin'.

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