This past weekend in Boston, nine people were shot, 13 stabbed, and feuding gangs used families at Roxbury’s annual Caribbean Festival as duck-and-cover props. In other words, nothing that might upset a public official relaxing on the Cape.
But on Sunday evening, an otherwise mundane attempt to end the lives of two teenagers turned ugly, when the gunman turned the weapon on a window of Room 280 of the Massachusetts State House.
Outrage swiftly followed.
The Herald and Globe both ran graphic photos of the victimized pane, with the tabloid splashing it on the front cover.
Deval Patrick’s spokesperson told the Globe that the governor was “particularly upset” about the window being shot.
State Senator James Timilty, chair of the Public Safety Committee, told the Herald: “The State House is a historic building — it gets hit with a bullet? I don’t have the words to describe how troubling that is.”
To some, it might seem inappropriate for Patrick, Timilty, and the press to appear more troubled by a bullet piercing a window than by the bullets that have struck 48 human beings in the city this month — the second-highest monthly total in the past 10 years, according to Phoenix research.
This flurry of gunfire came just after Boston officials boasted to the press about how their successful policing strategies had reduced the year’s shootings from the utterly atrocious 2006 rate, all the way down to merely the 10-year-record pace of 2005.
Just a few weeks earlier, the legislature passed a budget that provides funding for just 50 of the governor’s promised 1000 new cops.
But that was back when shootings happened to other people. It often takes a personal experience to get politicians to care about an issue.
Just this week, for example, we learned that Mayor Tom Menino recently added an early-morning bike ride to his routine, and suddenly plans to champion city bicycling after a decade of acting as the chief impediment to safe-cycling efforts.
So perhaps the State House window incident will spur the state government to reassess its current public-safety strategy of minimizing funding for police, prosecutors, courts, probation officers, substance-abuse programs, prison-educational programs, and youth services.
Or, perhaps they’ll just install bullet-proof glass in the State House windows, and head back to the Cape.