‘Things are out of control’: Outreach workers pulling out of Mass & Cass due to safety concerns

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BOSTON — Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said the city’s community partners are pulling outreach workers from Mass & Cass, an area of the city also knowns as methadone mile, amid growing concerns for public safety.

Wu said the conditions around the intersection of Mass. Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard have gotten so dangerous with the increase of drug trafficking, human trafficking, and violence that some outreach organizations are pulling their teams off the streets.

“Even the outreach workers who have been there day after day are not feeling comfortable.. not feeling like they can physically safely be there anymore,” said Wu.

In recent months, police officers and others have been attacked in the area including a story we reported on just last month after a well-known Police Sergeant was pepper sprayed in an unprovoked attack. City data shows Boston EMS responses to the area have doubled from a year ago.

Mayor Wu has stood by the city’s public health-centered approach of meeting people where they are, but on Wednesday she said the city needs to find a better way to separate those who need treatment from those who are causing problems.

City Council President Ed Flynn is also addressing recent violence toward police officers and first responders.

“Boston police officers have experienced an increased level of physical and verbal assaults as they respond to emergency calls and patrol our neighborhoods,” said Flynn. “This violence against police and first responders is unacceptable, and needs to be condemned.”

Neighbors told Boston 25 News they’ll now be watching to see what, if anything, changes in the weeks ahead.

“The mayor seems to be acknowledging this for the first time in her administration that things are out of control,” said South End neighbor Jonathan Alves. “The numbers have grown exponentially this year.”

Boston 25 News observed what appeared to be the largest crowd yet this summer while filming near Atkinson Street on Wednesday night.

There were several medical emergencies that Boston EMS responded to within minutes of our crew arriving.

Later in the evening, dozens of church-goers from four different congregations moved into the area to pray for those suffering on the streets and in shelters.

“As folks are rushing out, we’re rushing in there and loving on these people,” said Samuel Acevedo, a pastor with Congregation Lion of Judah.

Acevedo is a pastor with one of four congregations that make up Miracle Mile Ministries.

They visit the Mass and Cass area weekly to reach people through faith.

“There’s so much hurt and need and pain,” said Davie Hernandez, pastor of Restoration City Church. “We are coming together to pray for our community and pray for this stretch of a mile.”

Mayor Wu said the city is planning to take a major step to address safety concerns in the area.

However, she hasn’t yet elaborated on what that plan will entail or when the city will shift its approach.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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