School desegregation leads to violence in Boston, Massachusetts.
1976 (Jan 21 - May 31)
Racial violence erupted in Boston, Massachusetts, amid protests by whites against court-ordered school desegregation. On January 21, Black and white students at Hyde Park High School fought with fists and chairs. Across the city in East Boston, approximately three hundred whites tried to block a major Boston Harbor tunnel during the morning rush hour. Five people, including a Boston police officer and the mother of a student, received minor injuries at Hyde Park. Seventeen people were arrested in the two incidents. On February 15, about two thousand people fought the police near South Boston High School, “the focus of opposition to federal court ordered desegregation." Between forty and fifty police officers were injured in the mob attack. There "was no estimate of the number of civilians injured." Thirteen people, three of them juveniles, were arrested. Boston Police Commissioner Robert J. Di Grazia called the twenty-minute melee (during a so-called "Father's March") "an obvious conspiracy" by "an element of hoodlums." On May 30, a fire was set next to the replica of the Beaver, a two-masted sailing ship, which was moored at a bridge that led into South Boston. Although the ship was unharmed, $75,000 worth of damage was done to an adjoining gift shop and ticket office. The Fire Department said the blaze was "of suspicious origin." The next day United States Attorney General Edward H. Levi announced that the Department of Justice would not intervene in an appeal of the Boston desegregation orders to the Supreme Court. Some whites had urged the administration of President Gerald Ford to side with them in their anti-busing stance before the high court, while civil rights leaders had urged the federal government to stay out of the Boston desegregation controversy. At the time of this violence and controversy, Boston was in the second year of a school desegregation program ordered by U.S. District Court Judge W. Arthur Garrity. The program had been periodically marred by fighting in schools as well as scattered attacks on Blacks in white neighborhoods and of whites in black sections of the historic city.