Council Improves Outreach To ‘The Pit’
Nachtwey, who frequented the pit area, was stabbed to death on Nov. 3 in what police are calling a gang related murder.
“For us not to do something now would be a travesty,” said Councillor Michael A. Sullivan, who introduced the order. “I hope people will come together to help a very vulnerable group that will not be victimized again.”
Although Sullivan’s original order advocated closing the congregation place around the T entrance, several amendments altered the language of the order. The final order, which the council passed unanimously, requested that groups ranging from the Cambridge Police Department to Youth Under Fire “extend the provision of services to users of ‘The Pit.’”
While several councillors advocated that social workers be used to approach the problems in the pit, others focused on the importance of immediate police action.
“I am much more interested in the public safety approach to this than any other approach,” said Mayor Anthony D. Galluccio. “I want our police to very simply clean [the pit] up.”
But Galluccio and other councillors expressed reservations about simply closing the area.
“I don’t want to have anybody telling kids that they can’t go into Harvard Square,” Galluccio said. “Our kids should be safe anytime, anywhere.”
Several councillors discussed the two-part nature of the pit: the area has long been a hot spot for alternative youth culture, but recently a more dangerous group has frequented the area, a group which has been recently linked by police to a gang formation, a kidnapping, and a murder.
“It’s really a fusion of young people,” said Councillor Marjorie C. Decker, who added that she occasionally sat on the pit steps as a teen in Cambridge. “It’s also a deeper, darker site.”
Councillor Timothy P. Toomey, Jr.—saying that most “pit kids” are not actually from Cambridge—advised fiscal caution in funding social services for non-residents.
“I’m not sure I want to see a lot of our financial resources shifted from our kids,” Toomey said. “I just don’t think we can solve everyone’s problems. It’s a tight fiscal situation.”
Councillor Henrietta Davis advocated trying to obtain funding from other regions.
“Knowing that this is really a regional problem—I would respectfully ask that the task force take the approach of looking at the regional resources.”
Laols Kichio, a self-described independent artist and newcomer to “the pit,” read
a poem against closing the pit during the public comment period of the meeting.
“It’s an alternative safe haven,” Kichio said. “If you broke up the pit you’d be breaking whatever family that exists there apart. Cats that are homeless have a little place to lay down there.”
—Staff writer Lauren R. Dorgan can be reached at email@example.com