New Bedford Police Detective Lavar Gilbert recently observed, "an increase in shootings believed to be high tension between west end and south end gang members," during the past month and a half.  Gilbert's assessment is included in the report he prepared in the shooting death on Monday of 18 year old Brad Lourenco, New Bedford's third homicide victim so far this year.

23 year old Keeland Rose and 20 year old Ivan Fontanez have been charged in connection with Lourenco's death.  All three are New Bedford residents who have been caught up in a simmering feud that has gone on for years.  Mayor Jon Mitchell likens it to the legendary Hatfields and McCoys feud.

This gang war has less to do with defending drug turf or gun running than it does  personalities and grudges that have festered for years involving multiple generations.  It has claimed too many lives and resulted in too many innocent people being hurt.

It's time to end the carnage once and for all.

State grants and additional police patrols cannot end the violence.  Politicians and  fresh coats of paint won't end it either.  Nor will surveillance cameras and shot spotters. The only thing that will stop the violence is a willingness to do so.  A desire to say, "enough is enough."

That takes courage.  It takes leadership.

Ending the violence requires that both sides accept the fact that enough people have been hurt and killed.  It requires leaders on both sides to lead.  To talk.  To want it to end.  Period.

Police, clergy and politicians can help to facilitate an end to the violence but in the end it's up to the people in the west and south end gangs to decide that the issues being fought over are not worth placing another generation on the frontline to die for.

Too many mothers have grieved.  Too many young lives have been robbed of a future.

The time for peace has come.

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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