Re "The Scars of Graffiti," editorial, Aug. 9: Father Gregory Boyle's decision to close down Homeboy Industries' graffiti-removal program is sadly understandable. Who can put young men in front of drive-by firing squads and not pull back?
Young men killing young men in a nightmare game of tag is not acceptable and yet has continued for generations. This is terrorism, not some villain hiding in a cave, but a toxic stew of poverty and ignorance and fear. We have not even come close to ending the unholy war of youth against youth in our city. How can we hope to fix the same conditions in lands far, far away?
I met Father Boyle when he came to speak at my university a few years ago and found him to be the most impressive individual I have ever encountered. Last summer I spent a week with Boyle while doing a radio documentary on Homeboy Industries. I saw firsthand just what this program has been able to accomplish by reaching out to those whom others have long since discarded.
Any accolades of praise would be inadequate to describe just what Boyle has done for these young men and women, the community and pessimism in general. What is also disheartening is that the media generally pay little attention to this neighborhood, this agency and the thousands of stories of human redemption that take place there every day but turn on the spotlight when tragedy strikes. I have no doubt that Boyle and Homeboy Industries will persevere because the seeds of hope that have been planted there have grown into strong trees that can weather any storm.
Brian F. O'Neill
Professor of Criminology, West Chester University
West Chester, Pa.