West Side neighborhood joins in for picnic in wake of shooting death

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PITTSFIELD — Nearly a month after a shooting again rattled the city's West Side, the neighborhood came together and ate hamburgers.

Operation Copsicle handed out ice pops to children during the Friday afternoon barbecue at Durant Park. Alisa Costa, program director for Working Cities Pittsfield, read aloud a love letter she had written to the city's West Side.

"We come together to claim what is ours, defiant of the few who are making horrible choices," she said, reading from the poem.

The newly organized Pittsfield Neighborhood Action Team began organizing the event after a shooting claimed the life of 32-year-old Stephanie Olivieri on Aug. 25. She died in a shooting on Columbus Avenue; law enforcement officials said they do not believe she was the intended target.

During the event, staff from the Berkshire District Attorney's Office wore business attire and heels as they played basketball with neighborhood children.

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"This barbecue is to bring people together," said Gaylamar Artis, an organizer with the Pittsfield Neighborhood Action Team.

In an open microphone session, children sang songs, and one Robbins Avenue resident told Mayor Linda Tyer about tree problems on her street. Tyer took down the woman's address.

Christine Hamilton, another organizer with the group, said the event was supported with resources from the DA's office, the mayor's office, Berkshire Money Management, Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, Civitan and Public Market.

She said events like these are a step in the right direction because they lift up the neighborhood.

"It's gonna get better," she said. "Coming together helps that."

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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