Drawing ire over police shootings

There is little disagreement that race relations between African-Americans and police around the country are a tinderbox right now, as combustible as the drought-dried areas of the state ready to go aflame with the slightest spark.

In Milwaukee, black residents rioted for two days after a police officer there shot and killed a black man. The details that are emerging don’t sound like the type of incident that has triggered protests and the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement. The victim led police on a foot chase and a body camera on an officer showed he turned with a gun in his hand and was shot and killed by a black police officer. It’s not the narrative that would – or should – engender the reaction that it has, but these are different times.

In Boston, despite no recent incidents that have fomented angry local protests, tensions are high as both sides stand on edge waiting for that one match to light the fire. But Boston police are lambasting the Boston Globe for fanning the flames by running a hard-hitting editorial cartoon that lays the blame for the race problems squarely at the feet of law enforcement.

The cartoon, which originally ran in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, came from the paper’s syndicated cartoonist Mike Luckovich and ran in the Globe on Monday. The two-panel cartoon portrays a white police officer – what some lament as “an Irish cop with a bulbous nose” – holding a piece of paper in each panel. The first says “For white people” and the paper reads “Miranda rights.” The second says “For black people” and the sign says “Last rites.” Boston police union officials and rank and file members were aghast.

“A law enforcement professional’s job is difficult enough without the Boston Globe publishing unwarranted hatred toward police,” Patrick Rose, president of the Boston Police Patrolman’s Union wrote in a letter to the editor. “This type of false and negative editorial cartoon serves only one purpose, and that’s to incite racial tension between the police and the communities that we live in, work in, and have sworn to protect.”

Rose went on WMEX with talk show host Michelle McPhee, who makes no bones about her unflagging support for police officers, to berate the Globe’s decision to run the cartoon. The conversation focused on attacking the messenger rather than addressing the issue of officer-involved shootings behind the message. McPhee, who has been a reporter for nearly 30 years, said it was “incomprehensible” that the Globe would “search out” the cartoon from an Atlanta paper, describing Luckovich as a “nobody.” That overlooks the fact that Luckovich is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who is syndicated in hundreds of papers around the country and whose work has been in the Globe dozens of times.

The Globe ran a number of angry letters about the cartoon in Wednesday’s paper and online. In an email to media critic Dan Kennedy, Globe editorial page editor Ellen Clegg defended the cartoon as an opinion piece, stark but no less valid than a written oped on the subject.

“Cartoons are by nature provocative—no matter what the opinion expressed,” she wrote.

Though it’s hard to see how a cartoon on an editorial page could incite violence against police, Rose and others say it was “irresponsible” of the paper to run it while police are doing everything to defuse tensions. But the uproar comes as Boston police are under fire for requesting “long guns” to amp up their arsenal in an incendiary letter to superiors. In addition, officials have had to order 100 officers to wear body cameras in a pilot program because of a lack of volunteers for the effort. Both the letter and the refusal to wear the body cams have alarmed and upset the black community.

Michael Curry, president of the Boston branch of the NAACP, told Kennedy that, while Boston has not had the problems of other cities, it’s wrong to think it couldn’t happen here.

“Boston is definitely better than many others cities, but who believes we don’t have racial tension in our streets or BPD doesn’t have many blatantly racist cops?” Curry wrote in an email. “I believe most socially conscious Americans will see it for what it is: a satirical cartoon and statement about a broken and racially biased practice of policing in America—with Boston as no exception.”

JACK SULLIVAN

BEACON HILL

State Sen. Brian Joyce produced eight building permits to counter a Boston Globe story that he renovated his home without town approval. (Patriot Ledger)

Attorney General Maura Healey once again defended her enhanced enforcement of the state’s assault weapons ban, saying it’s working to eliminate sales of the rifles. But Healey admitted she was surprised and bothered by the misogynist, homophobic, and threatening comments that she and her staffers have received. (Greater Boston)

Michael Widmer, the former head of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, accuses Gov. Charlie Baker of being shortsighted on the VMT tax. (CommonWealth)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Despite rising concerns, municipal water restrictions are spotty during the drought. (CommonWealth)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The release of what appears to be top-secret code from the National Security Agency has raised questions of whether the super-secret spying agency’s computers have been hacked. (New York Times)

An Iranian refugee received welfare benefits in Maine before heading off to fight and die for ISIS. (Boston Herald) Herald columnist Howie Carr says he not only supports extreme vetting, he backs extreme, extreme vetting.

A private plane breached the restricted air space over Martha’s Vineyard, where President Obama and his family are vacationing, triggering the launch of two F-15s and a Coast Guard helicopter to investigate. (Cape Cod Times)

Topsfield’s Abbey D’Agostino shows some real class when she and another runner collide during a 5,000-meter heat at the Olympics. (Salem News)

ELECTIONS

House Republicans launched a new offensive on Hillary Clinton, outlining in a letter instances where they say she committed perjury during her congressional testimony last year and demanding the Justice Department bring charges. (GateHouse News)

Donald Trump shakes up his campaign staff — again. (New York Times) Roger Ailes is planning to advise Trump on debate prep. (New York Times) The chairman of NBC Entertainment slams Trump, the former star of the network’s Apprentice show, in a private Facebook post.

Barney Frank is planning to headline a fundraiser for the group pushing to legalize marijuana in Massachusetts. (Masslive)

An opinion column from a political science professor in U.S. News & World Report says one of the reasons there’s a dearth of quality candidates for president and Congress is the relatively low pay for the jobs and the author argues we should raise the pay substantially to attract better candidates.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Residents of an all-women sober house in Quincy say the for-profit owners have ordered them to leave within a week as they convert the home to an all-male residence. The women say the company has kept their pre-paid rent and deposits, making it impossible for them to find housing. (Patriot Ledger)

Amazon won’t face many of the same blue law restrictions that other Massachusetts retailers do, in part because of favorable language included in the recently passed economic development bill. (Boston Globe)

The Boston Redevelopment Authority, relying on an appraisal, is preparing to sell a 3,000-square-foot sliver of land in the Seaport District to a developer for a mere $55,000. (Boston Globe)

University endowments and nonprofits are moving their investments out of hedge funds because of high fees and low performance. (Bloomberg)

Ford plans to start selling a self-driving car by 2021. (Detroit Free Press)

EDUCATION

State education officials have signed a five-year, $150 million contract with a New Hampshire company, the vendor for the current MCAS exams, to create and administer the next generation of assessment tests for students. (State House News Service)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Hospital CEO pay rises faster than overall health care spending. (Boston Globe)

The state’s top three health insurers report heavy losses. (Boston Business Journal)

TRANSPORTATION

Hubway, the bicycle rental service, finally comes to Roxbury, Dorchester, and East Boston. (Boston Globe)

A 23-year-old Sharon woman allegedly kicked and bit a conductor at the MBTA commuter rail station in Readville. (Boston Herald)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell dismissed a Conservation Law Foundation report about pollution in the city’s low-income neighborhoods but a city councilor who represents some of the affected areas says the city should at least hire an “environmental czar” to evaluate the report’s recommendations. (Standard-Times)

Water temperatures in Cape Cod Bay rose from the recent wave of persistent high heat, exceeding the maximum temperature allowed by federal regulations and forcing a slowdown at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth. (Cape Cod Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Body cameras will be randomly assigned to Boston police officers because none offered to voluntarily wear them. (Boston Herald)

One of two men arrested for a rape at Trinity Park in Haverhill was deported in 2013. (Eagle-Tribune)

A no-pants defendant who was accused of exposing himself to a family in Springfield sees his charges dropped when none of the family members show up to testify. (Masslive)

A new study finds the number of women in jails has increased by more than 14 times since 1970, far faster than the incarceration rate for men. (New York Times)

MEDIA

Boston Globe columnist Shirley Leung reports that Ed Ansin is dropping his fight with NBC and will set about making his Channel 7 into an independent station with a heavy emphasis on news.

Univision wins Gawker auction with $135 million bid. (Time)