Black Lives Matter: Boston Racism: Cops, Feds, and Media : Part 10 of 10

**FILE**  Black students wait in vain for food service at this F.W. Woolworth store in Greensboro, NC, in this April 20, 1960 file photo. The Woolworth's lunch counter that became a symbol of the nation's civil rights movement in 1960 is part of an exhibit of national icons at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.  The collection is called "America's most singular sensations" in the current issue of Smithsonian magazine.   (AP Photo/Greensboro News & Record, FILE)

We should have known it was the media since back in 1968 it could have made the triple matter something of importance. I quoted Adrian Walker of the Globe earlier noting he said: “The likely truth is that the Boston Police Department of the time didn’t much care about the slayings. It was Roxbury, the victims were black, and they weren’t prominent.” That was true and I agreed with him. But he missed the main culprits who were his fellows in the media.

Where was the media when, to quote him, “one of the worst massacres in this city’s bloody history”occurred?  I wonder if Walker ever wondered about that? As a newspaperman shouldn’t he have tried to figure out why his newspaper and the rest of the media greatly failed in not covering this “massacre.”

The complaints of did not fall on deaf ears in the media. tThe Boston Globe’s editor Thomas Winship conceded the black community raise the legitimate question. He said “in retrospect, I think we overplayed and stretched it a bit.” He could not defend his coverage of a high noon rape, robbery and bloody murder of a 27 year old nurse in her apartment on Commonwealth Avenue near the Public Garden.

The Globe reporter noted that one of the eleven black women murdered in 1979, Bobby Jean Graham, lived in the same building as Smith. He said: “That case did not receive comparable press situation.” Why would it. She was slain a few blocks away and found in a rear alley 6:30 am having suffered blunt trauma to her midsection by a blunt instrument.  The Smith home invasion, rape and murder puts everyone on edge; people can reason they could avoid being put in the same situation as poor Graham.

Except for the Globe all the other news outlets defended their coverage. The Herald said it would have done the same coverage had Smith been a black woman;.Channel 5 was motivated by Smith’s background, stature in the community and her supposedly safe address but also the shocking nature of the crime; Channel 4 motivated by the breaking and entry, rape and the security issue.

The spokesman for Channel 7 said the media covers murders unevenly. “the media treat violence in the black community more a matter of routine than in white areas.” The Phoenix critic felt “when a black woman gets killed in Roxbury the press and many other people tend to react by saying, “What’s new?”

So what’s the conclusion. Do black lives matter?

They do with the Boston police except for the time of the triple homicide. That may reflect the black community more recent activism and alertness, or the influence of black police officers which would have been much less in 1968 before a person like Bolt had a high position on the force. It demonstrates the necessity of a police department reflecting the community it polices.

They do not when it comes to the FBI or the Justice Department. The FBI let the triple murder pass when it should have been solved to protect its informant. It made no appearance in the 11 black women homicide matters. Neither did members of the Justice Department in situations that may have involved conspiracies to deprive blacks of their civil right.

They don’t when it comes to the media. The problem with Walker and others in the media is they don’t look inward. They are always pointing the fingers at others but how could the media justify almost totally ignoring the triple homicide of Dixon, Barrett, and Smith. Even worse if we listen to the Channel 7 spokesperson and the Phoenix critic they were quite blunt in suggesting black lives do not matter.

Aside from all the others, what about the rest of us? Are we as interested in the killing of a person of another race as one of our own? As a white would I have been as concerned with the story about a person like Deborah Smith if she had been black?  Or, if I were a black would I have been worried about the Boston Strangler who murdered white women were?  During the January to May 1979 period when black women lived in fear there is no news about white women doing the same.

I made this presentation because of how little was done about a horrid event like the triple homicide of Dixon,Barrett and Smith which shouted out that in 1968 black lives mattered little. I jumped forward a dozen years and found a substantial change at least among the police. It is true that many attitudes not only towards blacks but also about others have changed substantially since the late Sixties. As for the present, I’d like to think that what racism existed in the media at the beginning of 1980 has gone away.

9 thoughts on “Black Lives Matter: Boston Racism: Cops, Feds, and Media : Part 10 of 10

  1. Matt, great series. Would be great to think racism in the press (Glibe at least) was diminished and maybe gone starting at 1980. But what of other insidious and unpunished acts of the media that are not racism, and still persist? For example, the overt attempt by Kevin Cullen to trigger the gangland murder of Whitey Bulger by naming him an FBI informant in an article (1988)? And what of Agent Morris’ admission that he continued and sustained a formal investigation of Senator Bulger at the direct encouragement of Globe’s Lehr and O’Neill (despite it’s thrust being wholly unfounded)? This is not racism, but it is an active abuse of press influence that could result at worst, in death, and also pretty horribly, in the general degradation of an innicent’s reputation. The Globe sought to deny Senator Bulger the ability to function as a productive member of society. I hope you continue to highlight that the Globe s silent acquiescence to racism may have diminished, but they have taken a much more vocal, active role in targeting those whom you have termed POOFs. Persons Out Of Favor. Keep up the great writing.

    1. Tom:

      Thanks. Actually it was Gerry O’Neill, Dick Lehr, Kevin Cullen, and their editors at the Globe who got the information on Whitey from John Morris. Morris admitted that he was hoping that once they disclosed Whitey’s informant status that he might be hit by the Mafia. It was in 1988.

      Morris as the informant for O’Neill – who he described in court as his friend – did testify that O’Neill pressed him to continue the investigation against Bill Bulger even though he had no evidence of wrongdoing. O’Neill was lusting for some charges against him since he had him as a mortal enemy.

      Not much has changed at the Globe over the years. It is in constant pursuit for recognition by the Pulitzer committee so it is pushing material that it hopes will result in one of its prizes; its right hand which in the Mafia world is known as a consiglieri, is the U.S. attorney in Boston. That’s why both Senator Joyce and Mayor Walsh may soon be standing before a federal judge.

      Unfortunately the Globe has enormous influence in the local judiciary who tend also to want to please it. Here is something you should know: the Judiciary-Media Committee consists of judges from the Appellate Courts and the Trial Court departments, the United States District Court, clerk magistrates, editors of major newspapers statewide, radio and television executives, representatives of the state’s two largest bar associations, the executive directors of the Massachusetts Judges Conference and the Flaschner Judicial Institute, and the court’s public information officer.

      Rather than serving as a watchdog for judicial wrongs, the media and the judiciary are washing each others hands. That is why in Boston things are not as they should be.

      Those Committee meetings are held in Boston several times a year. Nothing good can come from them.

  2. WRONG !!! … 295 Comm. Ave. is …. as my memory faithfully served … between Gloucester and Hereford, westbound on Comm. and a block and a half … not one as I did say … from Mass Ave. I was a half a block off. My experience was empirical. Her address … which should be honored with accuracy in your account, was NOT near the Public Garden.

    Like I said. You are not the worst guy in the world . But this is not an event that you would want to exploit for ” Gotcha – ism. ” I know that ground. That ground is my friend. I always have my feet on the ground when I cite a recollection. And I never lie or exagerrate. Period .

    1. John:

      Would you be happy if I said she lived “a few streets away from the Public Garden.” At the Algonquin Club where I often spent my time which is at 217 Commonwealth Avenue I always suggested to people that it was near the Public Gardens not thinking that I would have offended them if they learned it was a few streets away.

  3. I had a roommate who was a waiter at the Algonquin Club around that time. Used to bring me home those great rough hewn haddock sandwiches on Italian bread…wait a minute … those were from the Harvard Club where he subsequently worked … the Algonquin larder raids were of very tasteful fare, but that’s all I remember. No, I am not really offended. I do know that if you were nob hobbing regularly though at the Algonquin that you had travelled a far piece for a nice Irish lad from Southie and Savin Hill. Slainte 🙂

  4. Thanks, Matt. Even with your clarification of Morris masterminding the attempt, doesn’t it seem clear that Cullen, Lehr and O’Neill were Co conspirators?

  5. Matt,
    Regarding your statement….. “As for the present, I’d like to think that what racism existed in the media at the beginning of 1980 has gone away.”

    I find it hard to believe that neither you, or any commenters have failed to mention one of the most intense and polarizing racial incidents in the history of the City of Boston.
    Just nine years later, the Globe took the lead in the BPD’s racially driven witch-hunt, following the Chuck Stuart debacle.

    Definitely worth a mention.

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