Will Neighborhood Truce Survive the Death of Former Gang Member?

A Fragile Truce

The secret sessions ended in a summit held at the John. F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum last July. A truce was established: the gang members agreed to stay away from each other's neighborhoods and to call a minister before pulling a gun. By most accounts, the truce has been a success. Brown says no shots have been fired between the groups since last summer, and police officials have said violent crime in the gang neighborhoods is down more than 50 percent since the the gangs agreed to the truce.

Still, Norfleet is dead and, while no one wants to point fingers and disrupt the fragile peace, it may not be a coincidence that he was shot on the anniversary of a rival gang member's death.

No one knows who shot Norfleet. What is known is that he and his sister, Teah, were standing outside their grandmother's house when a couple of guys in hooded sweatshirts walked up and opened fire. Minutes later Jahmol Norfleet was dead, a week shy of his 21st birthday.

Rufus Faulk says Norfleet's death has been hard on the kids in his neighborhood. "Kids get kind of cold about it, you know. They say Jahmol wasn't even in the streets anymore and he still gets cut down. It makes them want to give up."

Brown is sad but not surprised at what happened. "It happens a lot. What happened to Jahmol is that the person will change but the streets around him don't change."

And so they keep going. Brown hopes to take the truce strategy "citywide" and involve other gangs. Shakeem Allah and Rufus Faulk will keep reaching out to at-risk kids in the neighborhoods and streets of Boston in the hopes that maybe their future will be different than Jahmol Norfleet's.

Faulk was born and raised in Roxbury. He left to go to Temple University but came back because he wanted to help the people in his neighborhood. "I feel like sometimes it's not the streets that are so bad. I mean, I've walked these streets. But you can let the streets consume you. If you have a sense of direction, you can say to yourself I'm walking these streets but I'm not living in these streets if you know what I mean."

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