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T should put the brakes on violent video game ads
By Michele McPhee/ The Beat
Boston Herald Police Bureau Chief

Monday, November 20, 2006 - Updated: 06:59 PM EST

In the video game Vice City Stories, players can kill a prostitute after having sex with her.

Nice, especially given the rise in sexual assaults in the city, with 266 rapes or attempted rapes reported to Boston police so far this year.

Grand Theft Auto players start the game as lowly street thugs whose mission is to become a crime kingpin, shooting cops on their bloody rise.

Terrific, considering that more than a dozen Boston police officers have been confronted by armed suspects in recent months.

Yet advertisements for these RockStar video games are plastered across MBTA trains at a time when 336 people have been shot in the city - many of them teenagers - and 67 people have been murdered.

Hey, I am all for First Amendment rights, but does the city really want teens staring at advertisements for video games that promote spilling innocent blood? The answer is no.

Some of these same teens are posting videos of themselves pulling out guns and threatening rival gang members in city housing developments on

City Councilor Mike Ross - along with nearly two dozen healthcare experts, youth advocates, street workers, ministers, child psychiatrists and even teens - have penned a letter to MBTA General Manager Dan Grabauskas urging him to pull the ads.

The letter will be delivered to Grabauskas this morning.

“At a time of escalating concerns about youth violence in the Boston area it is unconscionable that the MBTA would feature advertising for a violent video game,” the letter reads. “It is both cynical and irresponsible for the MBTA to advertise violent video games. As you are surely aware, shootings are up 21 percent and homicides are up 12 percent over last year’s already high levels.

“Promoting such violent video games undermines the MBTA’s own efforts to address youth violence, such as its special bus that memorializes young victims of violence.”

The letter will be delivered on the same day that Sen. Jarrett Barrios holds an oversight meeting on gun violence and youth at the State House.

Today’s day-long event will feature law enforcement from the city and the state, gun control advocates and others involved in trying to stem the increasing flow of bullets.

Finally, a concerted effort to address the staggering gun violence, a full year after Boston recorded its bloodiest in more than a decade, with 75 people shot dead. It comes 11 months after those gruesome crime statistics continued to rise.

This year, the city has already marked 67 murders, including the shooting death of 17-year-old Hakeem Horton, gunned down on a street corner in Roxbury the very same night many of today’s panelists at the State House were being voted into office.

Another 337 Bostonians - that’s right, 337 - have been hit by bullets from the start of the year until Nov. 12. During the entire year of 2005, 317 were shot. Just a year earlier, that number was 236. Clearly, we have a gun violence problem.

The question MBTA officials have to ask themselves today is whether any of these kids learned how to shoot playing violent video games.



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