Somerville youth organize peace march amid spike in gun violence

SOMERVILLE, Mass. — In an event organized by Somerville youth, dozens marched to city hall Friday night calling for peace in the city amid a troubling spike in gun violence.

Non-profit Teen Empowerment and its newly formed Peace Committee led the rally, beginning at Foss Park and ending at the steps of city hall.

“There are so many youth being impacted and afraid to go outside,” said organizer Maria Teixeira. “And the shootings witnessed and just the dangers people have been going through, it’s not fair.”

“No youth deserves to live in a world where this is a constant thing, where this is just a constant state of being,” added 15-year-old Sybille Decile. “And that’s why we’re here tonight, to fight for those who can’t and try to make this place better.”

Hours earlier on Friday, Somerville police released disturbing video of a shooting on Mystic Ave., earlier this month, when a bullet shattered the window of an apartment where three young girls were sleeping. No one was hurt.

Police announced a 20-year-old and a teen have since been arrested in connection with the crime.

“There’s a lot of shootings and a lot of fights at school, and we need to help the youth,” said Jose Gonzalez.

Mayor Katjana Ballantyne spoke outside city hall, promising to help tackle the root of violence.

Ballantyne, who was elected this year, said she is committed to ending hate and racism, providing mental health resources to those in need, addressing the housing crisis and bringing together people of all cultures, orientations and backgrounds.

Ballantyne also announced a new teen center will be opened in the city. American Rescue Plan Act funds will help build a permanent center where kids can gather safely, she said, with plans for a temporary venue to be announced soon.

“I want you to have peace, wellness, learning, experiences and opportunities that will help you reach your goals,” Ballantyne said.

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