Black Lives Matter: Boston Racism: Cops, Feds, and Media : Part 8 of 10

Broadway in South Boston where over 50,000 persons are crowded into a two square mile area known as "Southie" shown Apr 10, 1965. (AP Photo)
Broadway in South Boston where over 50,000 persons are crowded into a two square mile area known as “Southie” shown Apr 10, 1965. (AP Photo)

The Boston police investigation of the murders of the 11 black women showed these black lives did matter. The police, media, Mayor White and District Attorney Flanagan acted to show their concern. All did their jobs in their own way while working together to solve these matters while being openly responsive to the public.

The black community also played a major role in holding everyone’s feet to the fire. From the early march to other protests they gave notice of their interest. On top of that, as one article noted, “Many black law enforcement officers have said privately that since they live in Boston’s black community, they have a special stake in the investigation.” 

Sgt. Stephen Murphy head of a task force investigating the murders who was under much pressure tried to reassure people. He stressed there was no common link to all the murders other than the first two. He  said: “I think there was some concern in the community that simply because the murders occurred, police weren’t doing anything. But one thing police don’t do is deter murder. Adding a few more officers may help solve more murders but it won’t deter them.”  He probably was thinking back to the the Boston Strangler case where at times no matter how many police were on the case the murders continued.

It is difficult to compare the Boston Strangler case with the situation involving the murders of 11 black women. More resources were put on the former but that did not show a lack of commitment to the latter. The Strangler involved one maniac leaving no clues; the other multiple culprits with each case leaving its own clue. The lives of all these women mattered but it is certainly more terrifying thinking that one person is roaming the streets preying on innocent victims as compared to many people with their own individual involvement with the victims.

The black women were scared. They were staying inside more. They only went out when accompanied by others. They told how their habits had changed. They were checking on each other constantly by phone. One said: “The murders were so strange so many of them, that no one knows what they’re looking for or who to look for.” Another told how she if she goes out at night after walking a block or two she is “full of perspiration, and my heart is beating fast. I’ve asked myself sometimes when I walk “When is one of those fools going to jump out and attack me, kill me.”” A third who was thinking of moving added: “This city is a mad town.”

 The police repeatedly assured the public they believed the victims had a relationship with the perpetrators, “They all appear to be crimes of passion. In most of the cases the victim knew the perpetrator.”

The false idea of someone being out there who arbitrarily preyed on black women had spread great fear similar to that caused by the Strangler among the public. It is easier to be able to distance oneself from murders between people who may know each other but far less when the murderer strikes randomly, suddenly, and indiscriminately.

Black lives did matter in the early months of 1979 during the investigation of the homicides of the eleven black females. That makes the failure of the police and media in the Dixon, Barrett, and Smith homicides that much more problematic. How could it be that a sensational triple murder got so little attention in 1968?  Did the view toward black lives change so drastically in eleven years? Could you imagine a Dixon, Barrett, Smith type murder happening now and it vanishing after 2 days?

The FBI had an unsullied reputation and powerful friends back in 1968 when J. Edgar Hoover wielded his big stick. I can see it could have easily kyboshed a Boston police investigation whereby Stevie Flemmi could get his FBI friends to protect Martorano because if they didn’t Stevie might get charged. There is also the idea that the Boston police were indifferent because the victims were black but that did not appear to be the norm. From the law enforcement angle the lack of follow-up on the triple homicide seems to suggest something was rotten in Boston.

If it were only the police who acted this way that would be one thing. As far as I know the FBI did not control the media so why did it never do more with that triple murder. Why the page 17 and page 34 treatment. Triple murders usually command headline attention.  How then explain the media’s indifference.

Maybe the Deborah Smith case will help us understand.  (continued in part 9 on Wednesday)


8 thoughts on “Black Lives Matter: Boston Racism: Cops, Feds, and Media : Part 8 of 10

  1. Matt
    what exactly does it say about our judicial system that Weeks, Martorano, Flemmi, and Bulger ALL end up doing less time than Catherine Grieg and John Connolly. Talk about POLITICS? Its F*****G INSANE. Now how much jail time will Fitzpatrick get at the age of 76. 76 years old. Damn shame. On a side note have you ever read 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene or the Prince by Machiavelli? I wonder what were the motivating factors and though processes of Greig and Connolly NOT to bend over for Whyshak and the crew. They preferred (right word?) jail time to getting in bed and being a dog to Whyshak. That my friend takes guts, determination, and internal strength.

    1. Jerome:

      It says it is a corrupt system where the prosecutors with the aid of the judges do not apply justice uniformly but according to who they like or dislike. The whole case shows that some are above the law and others are going to be crushed by the law. The federal judges in Boston lives in isolation from the real world getting their new from the Boston Globe which has close connection with the Boston federal prosecutors.

      I’ve read the Prince – better to be feared than loved; better to kill a man’s father than to take his land; etc. Connolly and Greig are two separate situations – Greig had a choice to cooperate with Wyshak and give him whatever information he wanted and she would have been back on the street years ago. She just could not see doing it even after being hammered with the eight year sentence; after that hit she had nothing to gain from her cooperation and the idea that she was treated so poorly by the prosecutors and the court made her bitter and determined never to cooperate. Wyshak overplayed his hand with her – but he’s still according to what I surmise is still trying to have her come to him. That story is still open.

      Connolly was a different story. Wyshak wanted only one thing from him and that was Bill Bulger. He and his buddies at the Globe have such an intense hatred of him that they stopped at nothing to try to get him. Connolly was the road to him; he was the only one they had jammed in who could give them something on Bill Bulger. Connolly’s problem was he had nothing to offer – as he said to me during his trial Bill’s a man of integrity. He also told me that they wanted him to give him others in the FBI but there too he said he knew nothing. Whereas Greig had a lot of information she could give them; Connolly had nothing so he had no choice but to go to trial and try to beat the charges. Greig on the other hand entered a plea of guilty believing that would lessen her sentence but as we know it didn’t.

      Greig’s courage is shown in being one of the few ever to stand up to Wyshak; Connolly’s is shown in his refusal to throw someone else overboard to save himself. Think of how easily Connolly could have buried Bill Bulger. All he had to say is Bill asked him keep Whitey safe like the story Martorano made up and Bill would have been indicted as part of Winter Hill gang.

      Again to bad about Fitzpatrick – I guess like the Mafia the federal prosecutors gave him an offer he could not refuse.

      1. Matt
        Excellent analysis and breakdown on Catherine Grieg and John Connolly. It still says something to me that Connolly chose NOT to lie or throw any dirt on Bill Bulger inorder to avoid jail time. What exactly was Connolly convicted of that would warrant such a long sentence? I am aware of the bogus nonsense that he helped to set up Callahan(?) to be murdered. Also, why does the Globe and Whyshak hate Bill Bulger so much? Sad and pathetic that Fed Whyshak spends so much energy, time, and effort going after certian people but maybe thats what it takes to be considered an excellent prosecutor? Someone who is committed and an over zealot and slightly obsessed with “just” causes.

        I cant blame Fitzpatrick taking the plea to avoid going to jail at the age of 76. Whyshak wants hime to look bad and a guilty conviction taints Fitzpatrick reputation.

        1. Jerome:

          I’m going to do a series on Connolly to bring people up to date. When he was tried in Boston back in 2002 he was acquitted of all the obstruction of justice charges that resulted in murders including that of John Callahan for which he would later be convicted in Florida. He was found guilty of giving a case of wine with a thousand dollars in it to agent Morris; lying to an FBI agent; tipping off the bad guys about an indictment coming down so they could flee; and sending a letter to the judge holding motion hearings which was an obstruction of justice since the letter purported to come from Boston police officers who said that some of the people had engaged in gypsy wires. None of his convictions in Boston were to anything of violence but in the federal court even though he was acquitted of the charges involved in violence his sentence could still be based on those charges. He received 8 years which was a severe hit for non violent crimes; sort of like what Greig received. You know about the 40 years for murder by gun in Florida.

          Bill Bulger always had a testy relationship with the media rarely interacting with it and being disdainful to it. The Globe, Gerry O’Neill and Dick Lehr, would have feathers in their caps if they could take down the Senate president. FBI Agent Morris testified that O’Neill urged him to find something on Billy and pushed him not to shut down an investigation against him. The Globe apparently believed without evidence Billy was corrupt. It was through their friendship with Wyshak that they convinced him of that. Wyshak would be heard saying that Connolly got in trouble because he was too close to the “Bulgers.”

          Bill in his book took shots at both O’Neill and Wyshak describing them in an unflattering manner and saying they double crossed him in the 75 State Street matter. O’Neill and Lehr went out of their way in the 75 State Street matter to stick their necks out hoping someone would charge Bill. Two federal investigations and one state AG all came to the conclusions that no crime had been committe. The Globe would never let up on it.

          Wyshak does things to please the Globe. He has done nothing his whole life, I believe he is in his late sixties, but prosecute cases. He has a lot of power and will use it in a vindictive manner. He plays a clever game; he’ll duck the strong attorneys who tell him he is great while they walk away with a great deal and he will hammer the people who have lousy attorneys. His reputation is a fiction since no defense attorney who practices in the court wills say anything negative about him because he will go after their clients. To get a deal they have to pat him on the head and say he is great.

          It is not Fitzpatrick who looks bad; it is Wyshak. You really have to question his judgment in going through that exercise against Fitzpatrick when the end result was to put a guy in his mid-seventies on probation. Too many cases in federal court are ending in probation – they are supposed to be doing serious matters but they are engaging in trivia.

    1. Jerome:

      That was a surprise that Fitzpatrick has made a deal to plead guilty. He must have been squeezed so that if he went to trial and lost they might have threatened to go after his pension and suggested they would recommend some time. So Fitzpatrick caved to a slap on the wrist: probably no time would be my guess. Wyshak just wants to show he can push people around and so as long as the person admits Wyshak was right he’ll give them an easy sentence. It’s a game in the federal court to just produce convictions and not the truth.

      A guy like Fitzpatrick in his mid-Seventies would do anything to avoid going to the can. The real punishment for him is eating crow. My take was that he could have won the case; the lawyer he hired has a good reputation; maybe the lawyer scared him into pleading by telling him he had no chance. Too bad – I was looking forward to the trial.

  2. “Black lives did matter in the early months of 1979.”

    1979 refers to …?

Comments are closed.