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Two Boston juveniles from a larger group of minors police say have been “terrorizing” the downtown area with violent and sometimes racially fueled attacks were arraigned this week, but both 13-year-olds will, for now, avoid serious penalties due to their age and a state criminal justice reform law.
The two teens, whose names have not been made public, were arraigned Monday before Suffolk County Juvenile Court Judge Peter Coyne on various assault charges related to recent attacks in Downtown Crossing and Boston Common, Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden said.
One of the juveniles was charged with 14 counts from nine incidents and ordered held on $5,000 bail. The other was charged with nine counts from five incidents and ordered held on $3,500 bail. If they post bail, both were also ordered to wear GPS tracking bracelets, to leave home only for school or service provider reasons, and to stay away from Downtown Crossing and other areas where the attacks occurred.
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The indictments are the only two scheduled so far in relation to numerous violent incidents at Downtown Crossing, Boston Common and other areas of the city over the past month that authorities say have been carried out by teens and other juveniles as young as age 11, the Boston Herald reported.
“Our hope and practice is always to keep children from getting involved in court. But the frequency and seriousness of these incidents demanded an approach that would address the immediate public safety threat presented by these juveniles,” Hayden said in a statement Monday.
Last week, Hayden pointed to a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill passed by the Massachusetts state legislature in 2018 that prohibits arrest or prosecution of children under the age of 12 and limits the ability of law enforcement agencies to hold children under the age of 14.
Democratic state Sen. William Brownsberger was a lead sponsor of the bill, the Herald reported.
Hayden said even though the legislation is complicating how law enforcement can address the recent attacks allegedly carried out by adolescents, he still supports it and called on appropriate state, city and community agencies to “take every possible measure to intervene with the children involved.”
Police reports documenting the attacks describe how swaths of Black juveniles have hurled racial slurs and other foul language at adult citizens and officers, have attempted to provoke violent confrontations with police, and shattered a glass door at one business that refused to serve them alcohol.
In one incident, a group of five minors were charged in the broad daylight beating of a woman whom they allegedly decried as a “White b—- with braids” despite her identifying as Hispanic. The minors have been linked to at least two attacks at separate McDonald’s, including one incident where a White 81-year-old man was assaulted while sitting down to eat a hamburger.
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In the most recent attack last week, WCVB reported that two female Suffolk University students told police they were attacked for telling a group of five children to behave, including one 11-year-old girl standing a slim 5-foot-3-inches tall. The police report says the girl, the apparent ringleader, is “well known to Officers as she has been terrorizing unsuspecting citizens of Downtown Boston,” but is too young to be arrested, according to the Herald.