Ayanna believes that government has a responsibility and a role to play in the intentional building of safe and healthy communities for all.
As a City Councilor, Ayanna has pushed city government to address safety holistically: prioritizing the stabilization of families and strengthening communities by working to break cycles of poverty and deeply entrenched patterns of violence, which exist in many forms.
In her first year in office, Ayanna held a hearing she called Family Voices. It was the first of its kind, both in its content and its approach. Surviving family members of homicide victims were given center stage to testify - she barred her fellow Councilors, city and state officials, law enforcement representatives and health care providers from testifying. The families, whom Ayanna deemed violence experts with a “PhD in suffering and grief,” provided frank recommendations to improve the city’s trauma response to homicide and violent crime.
Following the hearing, Ayanna worked with city officials, law enforcement, mental health and trauma experts, Boston’s medical community, and peace advocates to implement several of the recommendations offered by the families, including:
- establishing a grieving room in Boston Medical Center, which treats the majority of gunshot victims in the City;
- creating a monthly meeting of providers to develop and improve systems to better coordinate care for victims’ families; and
- expanding socio-emotional wellness supports within Boston Public Schools to ensure traumatized youth exposed to violence are on a pathway to healing.
Ayanna continues to work closely with the Family Voices community to see their expert recommendations implemented.