CRLS Students Organize a “Stop the Violence” Rally in Memory of Charlene Holmes

There is an expression “Only the Good Die Young,” and on June 3, 2012, that idiom resonated throughout Cambridge when 16-year-old Charlene Holmes was killed in a drive-by shooting, struck by a bullet meant for someone else.

In the generalized duality of “good” versus “bad,” the intended victim of the drive-by was a troubled kid who scared his neighbors and peers. Charlene was the opposite. She was an affable, sparkling, goodhearted kid who caused no trouble, and was on track to fulfill the goals she set for herself. She grew up on Willow Street and was a familiar face to all. She and her sister Chantae looked so much alike they were often confused as twins.

The boy, for whom the bullet was meant, lived in a house of Section 8 units that were a constant source of consternation in the neighborhood. The well-documented “problem” house fueled the fires of angst over the glut of affordable housing in the area, and became the poster child of all that could and would go wrong during the battle over proposed housing in the Immaculate Conception Lithuanian Church. As shocking as a drive-by in Cambridge, while barely dusk, and with Little Leaguers fielding balls just steps away, the fact that it happened at 34-36 Willow St. was no surprise to anyone.

Charlene’s death was the only homicide that Cambridge experienced in 2012, and today it remains unsolved. The culture of no “snitching” is the apparent roadblock to justice. Logic tells you that the intended victim and his friends would want the attempted murderers to be caught and locked-up. But it doesn’t work that way. To “snitch” would cause a retaliation war, and it could be said that Charlene took a bullet for the neighborhood. Her death, and the silence afterwards have kept us safe.

Charlene was due to graduate from Cambridge Rindge and Latin this year. Her friends and family wanted to acknowledge that somber fact, and the accomplishment that never was. And so in honor of a bright young Cantabrigian who is missed by all, they organized a walk and rally to “Stop the Violence.”

Photo courtesy of Susan Fleischmann


Sadly beautiful. Thank you.