Unwanted Spotlight? – East Boston seems to be an odd choice to start an anti-drug initiative

Last weekend, Mayor Thomas Menino’s anti-drug forces combined for a neighborhood wide outreach effort in East Boston.

To the mayor’s credit, and to the credit of the more than 400 men and women who participated in the neighborhood canvass despite single digit temperatures, the exercise did what it was supposed to – which is to raise the bar a bit on what the city should do to make known the drug epidemic sweeping East Boston.

This is all well and good.

What is not good is that it tends to paint East Boston as the center of the nation’s drug epidemic. Clearly this is not the case.

East Boston has its troubles with young people and adults using drugs, selling drugs, abusing drugs … but it hasn’t cornered the market on drugs and the abuse that comes with it.

Regrettably, part of the message sent out by such a large task force descending on East Boston during a cold and bright sunny January day, is that East Boston is drowning in drugs and abuse of drugs.

Such an effort unwittingly paints the neighborhood as a drug zone instead of the diverse, multi-racial and ethnic community that it has become.

There is a great deal of pride among residents who fancy the place as a good and decent place to bring up children and to make friends that last a lifetime along the way.

This, in fact, is the East Boston story.

It is a Melting Pot wonderland with a great deal of social, economic and religious activity.

This community, this neighborhood is not just about drugs, it is about countless stories of success and great families and of struggling people trying to achieve the American Dream.

Yes, we have drugs here.

But East Boston is about more than drugs, alcohol, domestic violence and the entire litany of bad things that happen every day in good neighborhoods everywhere across this nation.

The mayor’s effort here with more than 400 volunteers last week was impressive, and in part, it helps out making East Boston a better place, a more aware community.

We urge the mayor, however, to move on with this anti-drug show to other neighborhoods where drugs and gang activity have overrun whole blocks and streets.

Those of us who believe in this community can assure the mayor his help is needed in those places more than it is in East Boston.

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