Monica Cannon-Grant: Fighting Against Violence in Boston

 In News, Newsletter: Summer 2020

Whether distributing food to 1,700 people each day since the onset of COVID-19 through her Food for Soul initiative, or gathering thousands of people for a peaceful protest against police brutality in Franklin Park, Monica Cannon-Grant is a leading change agent for communities of color in Boston.

She became an activist following iseveral instances with her son when someone pulled a gun on him not just once, but twice. Since then, she’s attended every public safety meeting available and began using #ViolenceInBoston to bring awareness to each and every homicide in Boston. From this movement rose her organization, Violence in Boston (VIB). She established VIB in 2017 with an aim to educate, advocate, and crowdfund for various “disenfranchised communities,” including those of color and low income. Her work continues to change the narrative around violence in Boston, focusing on Black and brown communities that suffer higher rates of homicide and gun violence than any other parts of the city.

On June 2, following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, Monica organized a peaceful “die-in” protest at Boston’s Franklin Park with people lying on the street for 8 minutes 46 seconds, the amount of time the police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, killing him. Wearing a t-shirt imprinted with the names of those murdered at the hands of police across the country, Monica led the march with thousands of people behind her and brought the community together to fight for Black lives and their communities.

Late last year, Monica reached out to District Council 35 for a partnership to prep the Violence in Boston’s building for a 2020 opening. The center, once open, will serve as a hub to address the immediate and basic needs—housing, food, clothing, and public safety—of the city of Boston’s disenfranchised residents and those impacted by violence. DC 35 members volunteered Monica Cannon-Grant: Fighting against violence in Boston Monica leading the march on June 2. DC 35 Summer Newsletter 11 Monica Cannon-Grant: Fighting against violence in Boston to paint the interior of the building before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Since construction has resumed, our apprentice classes and journeymen painters and tapers are working on the center’s interior and exterior to prepare it for a fall opening.

“I couldn’t do this without [DC 35],” said Monica. “It means the world to me and to Black and brown communities who will be able to benefit from this Center. The Painters Union has gone above and beyond to make sure that [the Center] is ready to help the disenfranchised, and I am deeply indebted to the union.”

To date, Monica’s Violence in Boston Center has assisted more than 40 families impacted by homicide and violence in the city. “As Monica grows her organization and prepares it for a fall opening, we salute her courage, her fight, and her resilience to bring about the much-needed change in Boston. We are proud to have partnered with Monica to build a space that fosters her mission and stand in solidarity with her to affect permanent change that allows Black and brown people to live freely and without fear. #PartnershipWorks,” said Jeff Sullivan, BMST, IUPAT District Council 35.