Boston Mayor Michelle Wu was scheduled to meet with law enforcement this morning after an organized group of as many as 100 masked white supremacists marched through the city’s downtown on Saturday, assaulting a Black man along the way.
The meeting, especially Wu’s presence and strong condemnation of the racists— who are believed to be members of the hate group Patriot Front—illustrates the long attempts to rehabilitate Boston’s reputation. Boston has struggled for decades to shed a reputation as especially racist, highlighted by a violent response over forced integration and busing at some of the city’s public schools, as well as by testimonials from Black athletes of racist taunts and poor treatment by white fans.
Boston also helped propel Massachusetts’ first Black governor, Deval Patrick, into office in 2004 and whose last two mayors, Wu and predecessor Kim Janey, have been women of color (although Janey, a Black woman, ascended from city council rather after her predecessor, Marty Walsh decamped to the Biden Administration in Jan. 2021; Wu was elected in November). Boston as been majority nonwhite since the early 2000s by the U.S. Census Bureau’s count.
Wu, who is Asian-American, tweeted on Saturday that the march was “disgusting” and called out the participants as cowards.
But her condemnation doesn’t answer some critical questions that need to be asked. Did the marchers ask the city for permits for their demonstration ahead of time or nah? If so, it’d be super interesting to see whether those applications included the group’s name and purpose, as in, “Hey, City That Doesn’t Want To Be Labeled As Racist, mind if our Anti-Defamation League-recognized white supremacist group throws on these masks and walks through downtown right quick?”
Also, how many of those marchers were actually from the Boston area and how many traveled there? The Boston Globe (full disclosure: my former employer circa 2003-2007), reported that after the racists hopped a quick subway ride out of town, they piled into cars at a park-and-ride that had plates from Massachusetts, Texas and elsewhere. It also reported that the ADL “documented more than 600 incidents in Massachusetts involving Patriot Front, including distribution of Patriot Front propaganda and acts of vandalism,” since 2017
If at least some of the white supremacists were locals, why didn’t Boston police or the Massachusetts State Police have any intel on what they were planning beforehand?
If Wu and the rest of Boston want the rest of us to accept that it’s not what we think it is, they may want to come up with some good answers to those questions in today’s meeting.