BROCKTON – Vera Rosa is working as hard as she can to give her kids the best life she can.
This working mom chauffeurs her 10-year-old son to the Hancock Elementary School and is actively involved in her 14-year-old daughter’s life at Brockton High. She also coaches kids’ soccer. They all attend church.
But for Rosa, who is Cape Verdean and has lived in Brockton for 25 years, her biggest worry is that her kids grow up safe. “I want Brockton to be a safe place,” Rosa said. “All kids need and deserve to grow up like that.”
There have been five murders in Brockton already this year. Three of those victims were of Cape Verdean descent, according to Carlos Lopes, who organized a forum for the Cape Verdean community in Brockton on Saturday to talk about the violence.
Brockton has one of the world’s largest populations of Cape Verdeans outside the nation, which consists of a small group of islands off the west coast of Africa.
About 40 people attended. Residents, a religious leader and one politician showed up at the Cape Verdean Adult Day Health Center.
“We need to figure out what is going on with all the violence,” said Lopes, who served on the board of directors for the Cape Verdean Association in Brockton.
n Jan. 11, 49-year-old Jacinto Correia was stabbed several times inside a Prospect Street apartment where he later died. On April 11, Jacinto Viera, 19, was stabbed multiple times before dying on a doorstep on Green Street. It was the same day that Elson Miranda, 22, was shot to death inside The Lit Bar on Ames Street.
“We understand this problem with violence has been going on for some time and it looks like it’s getting worse,” Lopes said.
Hamilton Rodrigues drove from Canton on Saturday afternoon to attend the forum. The realtor lived for several years in Brockton and still has family who lives in the city. “I’m concerned about the Cape Verdean community and I want to see what’s going to be done,” Rodrigues said.
Carlos Gomes is Cape Verdean and has lived and worked in Brockton for the past decade.
“We are all immigrants and we all want to do good,” Gomes said. “We don’t want to see all this violence.” Getting government leaders involved is a way to jumpstart the problem solving, he said. “I am praying for a solution.”
Councilor-at-large Jass Stewart attended the forum on Saturday. He traveled to Cape Verde in September of 2011 and wrote a position paper about it.
Part of that trip involved meeting with five mayors from Cape Verde to discuss the youth violence in Brockton. He said the majority of the shootings and fatalities in Brockton are among Cape Verdean youth.
“I’d like to see a small task force with conversations talking place on both sides of the Atlantic to address this problem,” said Stewart.
Dialogue is part of the process but can’t be the only way, said Filipe Teixeira at the meeting Saturday. Teixeria is the bishop at Saint Marin De Porres Church in Brockton. “We don’t just want talk, talk, talk, we want dialogue with action,” he said.
Djanine Daveiga is a concerned Cape Verdean who lives in Brockton. She spoke at the forum and translated as well. “It’s not even summer yet and there have already been five murders and three of them are Cape Verdean,” Daveiga said.
Moises Rodriguez is the first Cape Verdean elected to the Brockton City Council. He’s also the executive director of the Cape Verdean Association of Brockton.
“I don’t see it as a Cape Verdean issue,” he said on Saturday. “We are not the only ones committing acts of violence.”
The Cape Verdean Association of Brockton is holding a second anti-violence meeting on May 29 at the Brockton library. They also held a forum back in April.
That discussion netted some solid ideas, Rodriguez said. One he would like to explore involves creating a community council that would be made up of people of various ethnic groups, he said. It would also include law enforcement.
“It’s something that we are not doing now and maybe it will work,” he said.
Jennifer Bray The Enterprise
Jennifer Bray may be reached at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @JenniferB_ENT.
Brockton Safety and Violence community dialogue continues May 29