Local News‘Stop the Beef’ hotline looks to quell street violence...

‘Stop the Beef’ hotline looks to quell street violence in Boston

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Got beef? There’s now a hotline for that.

The “10,000 Fearless Peacemakers” group out of Muhammad Mosque No. 11 operates a “Stop the Beef hotline” — a toll-free number to call for community mediation when an issue seems to be escalating toward violence.

“We try to stop beefs before they escalate,” the Minister Randy Muhammad of Mosque No. 11 told the Herald. “We bring both sides to the table and try to squash it.”

The idea is for people to contact them at 833-4-NO-SMOKE — or by email at [email protected] or messaging their Instagram — if either they or someone they know is getting enmeshed in a dispute that could escalate.

Muhammad — who was in the gang life before ending up leading the Nation of Islam mosque in Boston’s Grove Hall neighborhood — said they’ve gone through the process with several mediations so far, and, he said, all have resolved peacefully.

City Councilor Brian Worrell, who represents many of the neighborhoods in Mattapan and Dorchester around the Grove Hall mosque, said a takeaway is, “We can stop stuff from happening with a peaceful approach.”

“Residents want to feel seen, heard and cared for,” Worrell told the Herald, adding that “having fellow community members serve as boots on the ground is important” to spreading the word.

Muhammad said the 10,000 Fearless Peacemakers group really got going after the 2019 triple shooting that left Eleanor Maloney, a 74-year-old grandmother in Mattapan, dead.

“So that incident really caused us to put out a call again and to really be more assertive about being out there,” he said, adding that around 40 members of the Peacemakers regularly go out on neighborhood walks and peace demonstrations.

Similar hotlines in other cities like Baltimore and Allentown have reported positive impact. The Nation of Islam mosque puts volunteers through a training course on conflict mediation, and then four or five — typically including Randy Muhammad — first meet with either side and then look to have them both in.

The Nation of Islam, a Black nationalist group, is controversial on a national level.

Louis Farrakhan, currently its most prominent member, has made numerous antisemitic and anti-LGBT statements over the years. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the Nation as a hate group, which the group says they reject. At the same time, the Nation is well known in many cities’ Black neighborhoods for anti-drug and anti-violence efforts.

Asked if he suspects the effort hasn’t gotten much institutional support because of the NOI connection, Muhammad said he wouldn’t be surprised. But he said the effort is not about bringing people into the Nation — it’s nondenominational, and “there’s not religion here; we’re just being peacemakers,” he said.

Boston has been fortunate over the past few years to avoid the kinds of spikes in violence seen in other big cities in the U.S. Boston Police report 58 shootings this year as of the start of July, as opposed to 85 through the same stretch of 2021. Those shootings left 72 reported victims, down from 91 in the first six months of 2021 and the five-year average of 92.

“Violence in Boston, you know, there’s the ebb and flow to it,” he said. “Maybe a nonfatal shooting doesn’t even make the news, but it’s still something that they cause a lot of harm, and cause a lot of trauma.”

BOSTON MA - November 5: Second from the left, Charles Muhammad of Grove Hall Neighborhood Development Corp., Katrina Shaw of Freedom House, Minister Randy Muhammad of Muhammad's Mosque, Rev Miniard Culpepper of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church and Rev. Kevin Peterson of Metro Baptist Church and others stand in front of a proposed pot warehouse on Blue Hill Avenue in Dorchester that they are against on November 5, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)Boston Herald file photoMinister Randy Muhammad of Muhammad’s Mosque, center, stands with others in a Nov. 5, 2021, file photo. Muhammad’s Mosque has launched a hotline to combat street beefs and resolve conflict in a peaceful manner. (Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

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