Black Lives Matter: Boston Racism: Cops, Feds, and Media : Part 5 of 10

(!) MississippiFlemmi had become an FBI informant on November 27, 1965. On January 6, 1968 when he was beaten by Smith I suggested the FBI must have known about it. Martorano wrote in his book. An FBI informant later recounted the incident in vague terms, perhaps not realizing the connection to the three murders.”

Most likely this informant was FBI Agent Rico’s top level informant Stevie Flemmi himself. Rico washed the report to hide that Flemmi was the source. It read: “Informant stated that recently STEVIE FLEMMI had been beatenu p over $300. FLEMMI had tried to collect and met some fast talk. FLEMMI later went back to a bar where he was beaten up by a Negro bartender . . . Informant stated that STEVIE FLEMMI was in pretty bad shape; howevers, stated that he would take care of the matter himself.:

A black bartender beaten, a black bartender murdered, yet neither the FBI or the Boston police, if they had access to the information, did anything to follow up on it. Neither did anyone in the Boston’s U.S. attorney’s office appear to be bothered by the execution of the three black individuals or the failure of the Boston police to follow up on it. All we do know is that 31 years after their murder the guy who did it would be treated with kid gloves and given a big chunk of money by that US attorney’s office.

What we do know of the Dixon, Barrett, Smith homicides is there were no requests for public help in solving the crime. There seemed to be no news reports that the  police commissioner, mayor, district attorney, nor any other public official decried the killings. No task force of detectives was assembled to tackle the crime. There were three dead bodies, two teenagers, one a female, and a man in his forties. How is it possible to explain the indifference of the police?

Three and a half years earlier on June 21, 1964, it appeared that there had been another triple murder. Three men went missing in Mississippi. Two were white, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, and one black, James Cheney. President Johnson, Attorney General Kennedy, FBI Director Hoover and hundreds of FBI agents became involved in that case looking for the men. It was national headline news.

The Dixon, Barrett, and Smith murder went away silently. How did anyone know that they had not been murdered by some racist nut out to murder blacks? Was it that the reasons behind the murders were known and the Justice Department went along with the FBI in covering it up to protect its informant?

If not, then one has to conclude three black lives did not matter? Adrian Walker of the Boston Globe came to the same conclusion on 9/9/99. He wrote: “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.”  He should have added that neither did the Department of Justice or the FBI. He also should have added something else I will write about later.

Walker seemed to catch on that there was something rotten about the Martorano deal. He wrote: “Federal prosecutors had a chance to restore their humanity, to say that even after all the years that have passed their lives and deaths mattered. And yesterday they blew it.” But he too blew it not recognizing the federal prosecutors inhumanity extended far beyond their treatment of these three black victims.

Three murders, no ongoing publicity about them by the media, even silence from the black community, and with street signs pointing the way to Basin Street neither Martorano nor Flemmi nor anyone connected with Basin Street was ever questioned? Had they been Braggart Martorano would have told us about it in his book

This one case of neglect and indifference by all the authorities should not be used to make a case that black lives do not matter to the Boston police or others in authority. This is especially so since the FBI was in the background pulling the strings.

To get a better understanding I jumped forward almost a dozen years to January 1979 and compared that with notorious Boston Strangler case in 1982 to see how the Boston police operated then. Between January 29 and the first part of May 1979 eleven black women were murdered in Boston; between June 14 and December 31 1982 seven white women were murdered. I believed examining the police actions in those matters I would have a better picture of their attitude toward black lives. (continued in part 6)


  1. In the spring of 2013 I visited civil rights activist/singer Pete Seeger
    at his home outside the village of Beacon NY
    and conducted a video interview with him.

    Built by Pete in the 1950’s, the home sits high up on the side
    of a mountain overlooking the Hudson River.

    You could see 15 miles up the Hudson in either direction.

    Among the things we discussed was why the FBI assassinated
    Martin Luther King and how the FBI tried to assassinate Pete
    when he brought the singer Paul Robeson to perform near Beacon
    New York.

    TUESDAY, MAY 3, 2016 AT 10 A.M.

    Declassified documents in McQueen’s End Credits
    Courtesy Steve McQueen/Thomas Dane Gallery, London/Marian Goodman Gallery

    In 1947, Paul Robeson was one of the most outspoken celebrities alive. A six-foot-three ex-athlete with a distinguished scholarly record and a resoundingly popular acting career — his “Ol’ Man River” in Show Boat was the bass heard ’round the world — Robeson was also a pronounced left-wing activist whose pro-Russian sympathies hindered his employability and sent waves of panic through the upper tiers of American leadership. In a U.S. government memorandum that same year, a special agent stationed in Honolulu wrote tersely to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover: “This is to advise that ROBESON did not visit the Territory of Hawaii as he was reported to have been considering.”

    These now-declassified FBI documents pertaining to Robeson — many containing equally humdrum observations — form the basis for End Credits, a 2012 piece that filmmaker Steve McQueen has now expanded and adapted to be the concluding entry in the Whitney’s “Open Plan” series. Taking over the museum’s 18,200-square-foot fifth floor, McQueen outfits the space with see-through stools and two imposing, floor-to-ceiling screens.

    On each of the screens, and with the assistance of two voices (one male, one female) emanating from ceiling speakers, the FBI files scroll past at a constant clip. The pages overflow with information: stamps, signatures, Daily Worker quotes, newspaper clippings attesting to Robeson’s fight for anti-lynching legislation. Chunks of text have been blacked out to protect the identity of “confidential informants” of “known reliability.” For a liberal-leaning entertainer in midcentury America, this level of authorized surveillance was far from unusual, but it’s nauseating to see

    • MS:

      During the Ukrainian forced famine when Stalin was engaged in a little genocide against the Ukrainians where upwards of seven million starved to death while grain was being exported from there Paul Robeson was in the Soviet Union. He said: “From what I have already seen of the workings of the Soviet government, I can only say that anybody who lifts his hand against it ought to be shot!” He won the Stalin Peace Prize, said “The Soviet Union is the friend of the African and the West Indian peoples” He also is supposed to have: “praised Stalin’s “deep humanity,” “wise understanding,” and dedication to peaceful co-existence with all peoples of the world calling him “wise and good.” He also praised Stalin as a man that the world was fortunate to have for daily guidance: “Through his [Stalin’s] deep humanity, by his wise understanding, he leaves us a rich and monumental heritage.

      He might have had a good voice but he certainly was not a wise or good man. I suggest any surveillance of him was highly appropriate.