Forced Integration

Busing’s Boston Massacre
By Matthew Richer

A Boston judge’s experiment in social engineering has unraveled neighborhoods and frustrated black achievement

One day in fall 1975, about 400 Charlestown mothers
marched up Bunker Hill Street, clutching rosary beads and reciting the
“Hail Mary.” They knelt in prayer for several minutes on the pavement
between Charlestown High and the Bunker Hill Monument. And then they
stood up and walked toward the police line, still in prayer, handbags
held high to shield their faces. Soon a scuffle broke out between the
mothers and the police. Some women were tossed to the ground.

Although the women’s movement was on the rise, the feminist
establishment had no interest in the working-class woman’s struggle
against forced busing. They were indifferent to the wailing mothers who
where throwing themselves down in front of delivery trucks owned by the
Boston Globe (the pro-busing newspaper) or fleeing from the dogs that
police used to enforce curfews. The same people who celebrated when the
Supreme Court recognized a woman’s “right to choose” to have an
abortion were unmoved when a federal court revoked a mother’s right to
choose where her children could go to school. When anti-busing mothers
attended a rally for the Equal Rights Amendment downtown, one mother
addressed the gathering to ask whether the ERA would guarantee a
woman’s authority over her children’s schooling. They were all asked to
leave.

American Murder Mystery
Why is crime rising in so many American cities? The answer
implicates one of the most celebrated antipoverty programs of recent
decades.

Lately, though, a new and unexpected pattern has
emerged, taking criminologists by surprise. While crime rates in large
cities stayed flat, homicide rates in many midsize cities (with
populations of between 500,000 and 1 million) began increasing,
sometimes by as much as 20percent a year. In 2006, the Police Executive
Research Forum, a national police group surveying cities from coast to
coast, concluded in a report called “A Gathering Storm” that this might
represent “the front end … of an epidemic of violence not seen for
years.” The leaders of the group, which is made up of police chiefs and
sheriffs, theorized about what might be spurring the latest crime wave:
the spread of gangs, the masses of offenders coming out of prison,
methamphetamines. But mostly they puzzled over the bleak new landscape.
According to FBI data, America’s most dangerous spots are now places
where Martin Scorsese would never think of staging a
shoot-out—Florence, South Carolina; Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North
Carolina; Kansas City, Missouri; Reading, Pennsylvania; Orlando,
Florida; Memphis, Tennessee.

Memphis has always been associated with some amount of violence. But
why has Elvis’s hometown turned into America’s new South Bronx? Barnes
thinks he knows one big part of the answer, as does the city’s chief of
police. A handful of local criminologists and social scientists think
they can explain it, too. But it’s a dismal answer, one that city
leaders have made clear they don’t want to hear. It’s an answer that
offers up racial stereotypes to fearful whites in a city trying to move
beyond racial tensions. Ultimately, it reaches beyond crime and
implicates one of the most ambitious antipoverty programs of recent
decades.

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