Historically, there’s been very little to do on a summer night in Chelsea, and that’s been the problem.
Now, in its third summer, The Movement has been the cure to hapless wandering for local youth.
Instead, they hoop it up.
Coordinated by Councilors Yamir Rodriguez and Damali Vidot, along with Isidra Quinonez and Danny Mojica, The Movement keeps Chelsea kids age 13-20 busy on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings.
“I think it’s just a great environment because a lot of the younger kids play with the older kids and they can see them on the street outside of the league and say ‘hi,’” said Rodriguez. “A lot of friendships start because of The Movement. It develops kind of a mentor situation because a lot of these kids don’t have an older brother and this helps that too. It’s kind of an unintended consequence, but it’s one of the best things about it.
“The kids love hanging out and playing ball,” he continued.
Vidot said it helps to bring youth together in a relaxed, but supervised, environment.
“On Saturday morning, they don’t hand out, but they come to play,” she said. “After playing all day long, they will not want to go out to the streets when they get home. They’ll stay in and take it easy. On Friday night, they don’t want to stay out because they have to be here on Saturday morning. You have the 13-year-old playing with the 20-year-old, so it helps them become better players. It also builds community. It’s not like a lot of other youth leagues where you have to sign in and sign out. It’s street ball. They can be themselves.”
The Movement came out of a desperate situation, where the community was reeling in the spring of 2016 after the shooting death of Pablo Villeda during an early morning teen party on Washington Avenue. The shooting also injured numerous other young people, and it showed that the youth who are not “at-risk” needed some activities as well.
That’s when The Movement came together.
Now, the league has several hundred young people playing against one another all summer. Typically, the games are played at Highland Park, but a renovation project there may force them to move to the Williams School.
The Movement will begin play in early July, and it had its annual kick-off at Chelsea High last weekend – with the Battle of the Classes and Police vs. Fire basketball games.
“Basketball is the entertainment,” said Rodriguez, “but it’s the environment that has become very important.”
The Chelsea Licensing Commission has put on hold the ban of small liquor bottles (100 ml) after a hearing Tuesday night where numerous package store owners from the City came forward to protest the change.
The hearing came on the heels of the ban of “nip” bottles last month, with Chelsea being the first municipality to ban the sale of the one-shot bottles of liquor. That was to be followed up with the potential ban of small liquor bottles too. However, Chair Mark Rossi said the strong turnout from the liquor licensees in the City caused the Board to pause.
“They told us this would essentially put them out of business,” said Rossi. “The sales of small liquor bottles have been up since the ban on nips and the liquor stores were supplementing the lost income from nips with the 100 ml bottles. The positive on this is there was actually a dialog. This is the first time that has happened. Chelsea is the first municipality that has pub in a ban on nips. Based on that, it showed the community is serious about this issues. All parties considered this a problem.”
He said about half of the 16 package store license holders were at the meeting, which lasted more than two hours.
The result is the ban has been put on hold, but a special meeting has been called for Aug. 28 and a voluntary ban has been called for.
“We are calling a special meeting to address this and pick up where we left off,” Rossi said. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen something like this.”
He said the liquor license holders were asked as a show of good faith to meet with the Police Department and voluntarily ban 100 ml bottles (particularly McCormack’s and Ruble) within 30 days. While the License Commission rarely meets in the summer, Rossi said they would call the special meeting for an update, with the hope being the ban can work informally.
Police Chief Brian Kyes said he is still for the ban, but was encouraged by the willingness of the liquor license holders during the meeting.
“Although the Chelsea Police strongly encourages the commission to proceed with the ban as proposed, I am encouraged that these licensed businesses are engaged in dialogue with the commission, the community and understanding their role in this serious issue,” he said. “Moving forward, we will continue to focus enforcement on any business that violates City licensing rules and state law, especially those that have such an adverse effect on the community.”
But not all was lost in the matter, which is an issue pushed by residents and several city councilors, including Councilor Roy Avellaneda.
Rossi said it was impressed on the liquor license holders that they need to be more connected to the community. He said it was interesting to note that none of them were as involved as they thought they were – particularly in things like the Chamber of Commerce or the local non-profits.
“The idea is we’re not looking to push anyone out of business, but to address a systemic, decades-old problem everyone agrees exists in Chelsea,” he said. “This is a positive step forward to address that issue…It’s important liquor store owners realize they are members of the community and aware of their actions on others. No one wants to go to the hair salon next to a liquor store where they have to step over the urine-soaked body of a perons passed out in the doorway.”
In response to the U.S. border crisis, and the recent ruling by the Supreme Court to uphold the Trump Administration’s travel ban for some Muslim countries, local community leader Veronica Robles has decided to host an uplifting celebration of all cultures that call East Boston and America home.
The Veronica Robles Cultural Center will presents the first annual Uniting Borders Multicultural Festival, a festival for everyone, this Saturday, June 30 from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Suffolk Downs.
“The goal with this festival is to gather as community and highlight local talent and grassroots organizations to celebrate the diverse and rich cultures of our city,” said Robles. “As part of the ceremony we will offer the Ethnic Award to East Boston and Chelsea Police Departments, The Harborkeepers, Chelsea Police Department and the Jossour Moroccan Association of Revere.”
The event will feature 2005 Billboard’s Artist of the Year, Domenic Marte, and the Moroccan band, Stars of Boston, as well as thrity other local performers of music, songs and ethnic dance.
Activities for children will include bouncy houses, arts and crafts, magicians, clowns and more. “And you can’t have a multicultural event without food,” joked Robles. “Food will include tacos, arepas, hotdogs, pizza and food trucks North East of the Border and Perros Paisa, and Los Chamos.”
Robles said the program will kickoff at 12 p.m. with youth talent and dance groups including Yorgelis Williams La Voz Kids, Jossue “El Rancherito de Oro” La Voz Kids, Sebastián Medina, Alexander Taborda, Tomas Mira, the Veronica Robles Cultural Center Dancers and many more.
“Live bands will hit the stage at 1:30 p.m. starting with the pop band Karina Rae pop band, followed by the Moroccan band, Stars of Boston,” said Robles. “They will be followed by Jimador Musical a Mexican Norteño band, Grupo Los Nítidos a Salvadoran Music band, Eduardo Betancourt and Carolina Montes a Venezuelan Ensemble, Con Sabor Colombiano from Colombia, Na Bangela from Brazil and Panadictos, a Spanish rockband.”
Tickets are $20 if purchased online at www.eventbrite.com/e/multicultural-fest-uniting-borders-tickets-46871222087 or $25 at the door. Children under 12 and seniors are free.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he would gladly enforce the new Police and Fire residency ordinance confirmed last week at Council, but not until at least 2021.
“It has to be negotiated through collective bargaining,” he said. “The firefighters are under contract until 2021, and the police are now at the state Joint Labor Management Commission. It probably won’t be able to be negotiated with either unit until 2021. We have no plans to enforce it until there is a new contract because the law is clear this is a change in the contract subject to collective bargaining.”
The Council voted for the matter last month, and staved off a challenge to that vote last week, led by Councilor Giovanni Recupero. Recupero has tried for seven years to get the residency plan in place for new police and fire hires. The plan now in effect would require all new hires as of July 31 to live in the city for five years after hire.
The matter, however, cannot be enforced until the City Manager re-negotiates the contracts with the police and fire, meaning that all member would get raises in exchange for that change in working conditions.
Ambrosino said the unions could decide not to agree to the matter, which would also make it unenforceable if it is outside any contract.
“An ordinance cannot supersede a mandatory collective bargaining matter,” he said. “It is unenforceable until it shows up in a collective bargaining agreement.”
A Suffolk Superior Court jury Wednesday, May 30, convicted a drunk driver of killing 25-year-old Marco Salguero-Cruz in Chelsea and speeding away from the scene after a night of drinking at a Chelsea bar.
Jurors convicted Jose Daniel Arevalo, 35, of motor vehicle homicide while under the influence and leaving the scene of a collision causing death. He will be sentenced Thursday morning.
“Two years ago, the defendant made a choice that cost Marco Salguero-Cruz his life,” DA Dan Conley said. “Suffolk prosecutors, Chelsea detectives, and State troopers worked for untold hours on this case, first to identify the suspect, then to apprehend him, and finally to hold him accountable. He fled the scene. He fled the country. But he could not flee from justice in a Suffolk County courtroom.”
Assistant District Attorney Michael V. Glennon proved at trial that Salguero-Cruz was struck by a silver Toyota Camry that left the scene on the night of June 4, 2016, in the area of Washington Street in Chelsea. He died of his injuries at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Chelsea Police detectives and State troopers assigned to Conley’s office recovered images from cameras in the area that captured the vehicle’s path of travel as it exited the parking lot of a Washington Street bar at a high rate of speed, and later as it fled from the area of the crash. Images captured prior to the crash depict the vehicle with two functioning headlights; footage captured immediately after the crash shows the vehicle with only one headlight working.
With the assistance of Conley’s Forensic Multimedia Lab and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Digital Evidence Lab, previously-deleted footage from a private security camera was recovered and enhanced.
Conley’s office, Chelsea Police, and State Police released images depicting the driver to the media and the public, and a person familiar with Arevalo contacted investigators after recognizing him. Investigators were also able to independently identify Arevalo through witness statements, social media, and Registry of Motor Vehicles records, prosecutors said.
Additional footage depicted Arevalo inside the Washington Street bar consuming four beers and six shots in approximately 2.5 hours leading up to the fatal crash, prosecutors said.
Arevalo allegedly fled to El Salvador two days after the crash but later returned to the United States and was taken into custody in Texas by Texas Rangers acting on a Massachusetts warrant obtained by Chelsea and State police.
Late Tuesday afternoon, two members of the Massachusetts State Police Gang Unit, working with an FBI agent, arrested a Boston man in Chelsea who was carrying an illegally owned firearm and trafficking weight amounts of heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine.
At approximately 5:30 p.m. on May 29, the Troopers and Agent were on patrol on Chelsea Street in East Boston when they observed a silver Volkswagen Passat driven by Bryan Cortez, 31, of Dorchester. One of the Troopers knew that Cortez did not have a valid driver’s license; the Troopers also recognized Cortez as the suspect who had dragged one of the Troopers with his car during a 2015 motor vehicle stop.
The Troopers and Agent followed the Passat onto Eastern Avenue in Chelsea, at which time they stopped it for the license violation. As they walked up to the suspect vehicle, it accelerated away at a high rate of speed. The Troopers and Agent followed in the direction in which the Passat had fled and soon located it at the top of Chester Avenue, a one-way street it had traveled up in the wrong direction.
As the cruiser approached the Passat, Cortez jumped out from the driver’s door and ran into a backyard. The Troopers and Agent searched for him on foot and in their cruiser, and eventually located him coming out of a backyard on Highland Street wearing a black backpack. A Trooper ordered him to stop, but Cortez ran away again. After a short foot pursuit and repeated commands for Cortez to stop running, he was cornered by the Trooper on the porch of a home on Highland Street. Cortez resisted arrest but was subdued.
A subsequent investigation revealed the contents of Cortez’s backpack to be a loaded Bersa Thunder 9 Ultra Compact 9mm pistol; several bags containing a white powder consistent with fentanyl; a bag containing 43 Suboxone strips; several plastic bags containing a hard white substance consistent with crack cocaine; a brown Gucci bag containing several small plastic baggies filled with a tan substance consistent with heroin; three unidentified pills; and plastic baggies containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana.
The backpack also contained Cortez’s birth certificate, Social Security card, an RMV identification card, and an April 2018 mailing from the RMV notifying him of his license suspension. More than $1,240 in cash were also recovered from the backpack and Cortez’s person and seized as possible profits of narcotics trafficking.
Cortez acknowledged that he does not have a license to carry a firearm. Troopers transported him to the State Police Barracks in Revere, where he was booked on the following charges:
Unlawful possession of a firearm;
Unlawful carrying of a firearm, third offense;
Unlawful carrying of a loaded firearm;
Armed Career Criminal;
Possession of a firearm in commission of a felony;
The Chelsea Police Department will be teaming up with Massachusetts State Police and more than 133 local police departments state-wide to crack-down on motorists who are not buckling up. Chief Brian A. Kyes confirmed Chelsea Police will be taking part in the national Click It Or Ticket (CIOT) seat belt enforcement mobilization which is federally funded through the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s Highway Safety Division.
“Memorial Day traditionally kicks off the busy summer driving season,” said Chelsea Police Chief Thomas Dunn. “Safety belts and properly installed child safety seats are your best defense against drunk, aggressive and distracted drivers, as well as your own mistakes.” Beginning May 14 and until June 3, law enforcement officials will be out in full force, looking for safety belt violators.
In Massachusetts in 2012, an estimated 50 lives could have been saved if everyone wore their seat belts. Statistics also show that passenger vehicle occupants are buckling up more during the day, but not enough at night. While Massachusetts data is still being compiled, nationally, nighttime drivers are less likely to buckle up compared to daytime drivers. 10,480 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes at night (6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.) in 2012. Of those killed in nighttime crashes, 55 percent were not wearing seat belts (compared to 41 percent of occupants killed during daytime hours of 6 a.m. to 5:59 p.m.).
As part of the day or night, state and local police departments including Chelsea will join law enforcement agencies across the East Coast in mobilizing the CIOT “Border to Border” Operation which aims to provide increased seat belt enforcement at State Borders, sending a ‘zero tolerance’ message to the public: driving or riding unbuckled will result in a ticket, no matter what state, no matter what time.
“As we kick-off the busy summer driving season, it is crucial that everyone buckles up every time they go out, day and night – no excuses,” said Chief Thomas Dunn. “Our officers are prepared to ticket anyone who is not wearing their seat belt, including drivers that have neglected to properly buckle their children. Adults must remember that if they don’t buckle up then they can become unguided missiles during a crash and can severely injure other vehicle occupants, especially children.”
Chief Brian Kyes announced late last week the arrest in Maryland of Gerardo Reyes Menjivar, 36, of Lynn, who was wanted in connection with the stabbing of a waitress at a Chelsea Restaurant on Monday night, May 7.
Menjivar was placed in custody in Beltsville, MD, May 10 by the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force.
Chelsea Police Detectives placed a Nationwide BOLO for Menjivar and the vehicle he was operating on Tuesday, May 8. Investigators worked tirelessly in their efforts to track Menjivar’s movements over 24 hours, and those efforts led to the arrest.
Chief Kyes praised his officers, the community members who came forward with information and a host of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies that coordinated together to bring Menjivar into custody.
“Today after a successful nationwide law enforcement effort we placed a violent individual into custody and our community is safer,” he said. “I thank the many agencies involved that worked in unison with our department to apprehend Menjivar.”
Menjivar will be held in Maryland as a fugitive from justice as the Suffolk Court District Attorney’s Office work on his rendition back to Massachusetts.
Menjivar will face multiple charges including Assault to Murder.
The following agencies were instrumental in the investigation: The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, the Massachusetts State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section, Boston PD Detectives, Denver CO PD, the Bennet CO Sheriff’s Office, NYPD, US Marshals Service, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, and the regional HIDA (High Intensity Drug Apprehension) Taskforce.
With a proposal that increases spending by nearly $10 million, City Manager Tom Ambrosino submitted a City Budget to the Council this week for consideration at the May 7 meeting.
The $174 million budget is rather lean and creates only two new positions, but does contribute extra money to the School Department and covers the final year pay increases of several union contracts.
As submitted, the budget is out of balance by $790,000 – which Ambrosino said would not be a big deal to cover in the months ahead.
“We continue our improvements in the downtown and our support for the schools,” he said. “We have created two new positions in the DPW, one in the Water Department and a Junior Engineer.”
There are no new positions for Police and Fire this year, in contrast to the last two years when record numbers were added to the Fire Department through federal and local funding.
“There are not new positions in those departments this year,” he said. “We’ll maintain the current contingents.”
There are now 111 Police officers on, and just shy of 100 firefighters.
Other fixed costs included increases in health insurance, rubbish disposal/collection, and retirement system funding.
The two new positions relate to growth and water meters, he said.
The junior engineer will help the city with all of the ongoing projects, while the Water Department employee will be a liaison to the public regarding the many issues with the City’s current water meters.
Ambrosino said he has instructed the Department to begin the process of getting new water meters, but until then, the new employee would help sort out customer complaints.
“The City is looking into new water meters because our existing meters are old and not functioning well,” he said.
For the School Department, he said they gave an additional $1 million on top of the $1 million added last year. He said they have given the schools 5 percent more than required by the state this year.
However, he said that cannot continue forever.
“There is a balancing act in how much a City can contribute to the School Department without putting its own budget out of whack,” he said.
The School Department is primarily funded by state money, and the City is required to pay a certain portion of the funding as well through a state formula. This year, that mandatory payment is going to be $91.2 million. The City has given over and above that in the last three years.
Following their receipt of the City Budget on Monday, Council President Damali Vidot will schedule a full slate of budget hearings for the month of May and June. The City Budget must get Council approval by June 30.
More than 500 Chelsea High students walked out of class on Thursday, March 15, as part of the national school walk-out movement to promote more efforts towards school safety.
Armed with only a megaphone, students marched into shin-deep snow and cold temperatures to participate in the movement locally, and to draw attention to school safety.
They were supported by the Chelsea Public Schools and the Chelsea Police, who stood in solidarity with the students, who ranged in age from 13 to 18.
“P-O-W-E-R,” yelled Stephanie Rodrigues, one of the key coordinators along with Diego Estrada. “We have the power. We have a voice. We can use our power…We deserve to be heard. We deserve to be safe. We don’t deserve to stand around and wait for someone to come kill us. You could be next. Unfortunately, the 17 students in Florida were killed by a man who should not have had a gun. This is not normal. We should not stand around and wait for someone to take action for us. We can take action.”
Student Eric Lazo entertained the crowd with impromptu chants and songs on the megaphone, for which most everyone in the crowd followed.
“I came out because this can’t happen again,” said Imane Rharbi. “We can’t have students being killed and unsafe. We need gun control right now. That’s why I came out.”
Junior Angel Vargas said he and many other students are concerned that they could be next, that the fear of something at Chelsea High is real.
“It’s important for all of us to come out here,” he said. “It was terrible what happened in Florida. That was the reason I came out. We are scared.”
Students cheered loudly, hats and scarves wrapped tightly around them, and then broke into a solemn moment as Rodrigues read the names of the 17 students killed in Florida on Feb. 14.
The national walk-out day was supposed to occur on March 14, and all over the state and country students staged walk-outs to call for more gun ownership restrictions and more funding for mental health services inside and outside of school. In Chelsea, the effort had to be postponed because of the blizzard on March 13 that cancelled school for two days.
Originally, the plan called for Chelsea students to have their walk-out in the school gym to avoid having to go in the snow. However, Rodrigues said she and Estrada were approached by students who said it should go on outside.
“We were approached by some students who felt we shouldn’t be focused on comfort by going in the gym,” said Rodrigues, who described herself as just another student and a track athlete. “We agreed. We shouldn’t be comfortable when making a stand. We wanted to show we were standing up no matter what the conditions were outside.”
Outside on Thursday, students carried signs that made many different statements.
Some depicted an anti-gun message, while others called for funding to help people who are mentally ill. Some signs blasted the National Rifle Association (NRA) and others called for remembrance of the Florida students.
Most striking, however, were the hand-made signs that read, “Am I Next?”
Rodrigues said it isn’t an overreaction in Chelsea.
She said students and adults are concerned about their safety in school, and it’s something that is a bit new.
“Honestly, I feel we are all scared, even the adults,” she said. “That’s what pulled us all together. We shouldn’t let our safety in school be in question. That brought us together…One day it could be us.”
Stephany Villatoro and Masireh Ceesay were two of about 500 Chelsea High students that participated in a walk-out for school safety on Thursday, March 15. Students said they came together because they were scared that one day they could be school shooting victims.
Nancy Baguada and Mauricio Rubi march through the snow to the walk-out.
Co-Organizer Stephanie Rodrigues fires up the student crowd at the Stadium with a megaphone.
Student Erik Lazo shouted out interesting chants and songs during the walk-out to get the crowd fired up.
Imane Rharbi said there can be no more school shootings. She said now is the time for stricter gun control.
Students rally on the Stadium field in the snow.
Junior Angel Vargas signs the petition from Chelsea High.
Student organizers standing with Chelsea Police Officers. Chelsea Police and Chelsea High security provided a safe perimeter for the students during the walk-out.