Racial incidents making headlines

We’re on day 52 of 2019, and a string of racial and xenophobic incidents across the Commonwealth are making headlines.

The Brockton Enterprise has identified an Easton woman involved in an alleged racist attack on a Haitian-American shopper at a Brockton Market Basket on February 1.

According to police reports, 65-year-old Gloria Downey became angry over a parking space, and allegedly told Lola Jean-Baptiste to “go back to Africa,” and called her the N-word. The police report also says Downey keyed Jean-Baptiste’s car, rammed a shopping cart into her in a second confrontation inside the store, and told her she was taking Jean-Baptiste’s photo “to send to ICE.”

Downey is facing several charges, including violation of civil rights and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. The situation is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Downey will be arraigned in court next month and didn’t respond to press inquiries. The Brockton area branch of the NAACP has gotten involved.

Over in Brookline, residents petitioned the Select Board this week not to appeal the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission’s ruling that the town failed to show just cause in firing firefighter Gerald Alston two years ago. Alston claims he was repeatedly discriminated against after reporting a 2010 voicemail from his superior officer Paul Pender that contained a racial epithet. Alston is asking to be reinstated.

The commission said the town “actively promoted a false narrative that painted Firefighter Alston as a paranoid employee who simply couldn’t ‘move on’ from racist comments.”

Framingham State University is investigating racist graffiti from early February aimed at African-Americans. Another incident at a public educational institution involved a Wareham hockey player being spit on by one opposing team player and called racial slurs by another. This was a week ago.

Last Friday, four young men from white nationalist group Patriot Front were arrested for allegedly putting up racist fliers around East Boston. About 50 fliers, including some that the four were holding when they were caught, read “Keep America American. Report any and all illegal aliens. They are not immigrants. They are criminals. Call: 1-866-DHS-2ICE.” Patriot Front has not commented publicly on the arrests.



A Globe editorial backs efforts in the Legislature to open up the closed-door show cause hearings held by clerk magistrates in state courts.


The Department of Interior is denying allegations the agency distorted facts to proctor a decision related to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s qualification of trust lands. (Cape Cod Times)

In his state of the city address, Methuen Mayor James Jajuga tried to look past the police superior officers contract that put the city in a fiscal pickle. (Eagle-Tribune)

Brian Corrigan, the former second assistant city attorney in Lawrence, has so far been unsuccessful in his lawsuit attempting to regain his job. Mayor Dan Rivera fired him, but the city council voted to rehire him. (Eagle-Tribune)

Jay Green, president of the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum, is named town administrator in Adams. (Berkshire Eagle)

Four members of the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates are demanding County Commissioner Ronald Beaty Jr. step down from his post after posting a homophobic tweet. His tweet Tuesday inquired whether gay politicians were “too self-absorbed and self-centered” to represent all constituents. (Cape Cod Times)


The investigation that has consumed President Donald Trump’s attention for much of his first two years in office could be drawing to a close, according to Department of Justice officials. Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed in May 2017 to look into any coordination between the Russian government and Trump’s campaign. (Washington Post)

Liberal-leaning Mainers are upping the heat on Sen. Susan Collins, saying the Republican’s moderate label is wearing thin in the age of Trump. (Boston Globe)

Joan Vennochi explores a possible rift that has opened up between Cardinal Sean O’Malley and the pope over the handling of clergy sexual abuse issues. (Boston Globe)

In a wide-ranging interview with WGBH, Sen. Ed Markey warned of the dangers of invading Venezuela, called for new limitations on the president’s authority to launch nuclear weapons, and defended his Green New Deal proposal against critics, including his former House colleague, Barney Frank.

Conan Harris, husband of US Rep. Ayanna Pressley, says he paid a $17,000 federal tax debt that he says was the result of “miscommunication.” (Boston Herald)


Bernie Sanders raised $6 million from more than 225,000 donors after announcing his presidential bid. (New York Times)

Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, says concerns about voter suppression from the left and voter fraud from the right animating debate over new voter ID laws amount to much ado about not very much, as a new study shows the laws are having little effect on minority turnout or on uncovering fraud.


The cost to Columbia Gas of Massachusetts of the September explosions that rocked the Merrimack Valley is now tabulated to exceed $1 billion. (Boston Globe)

The owner of a Chinatown hair salon in Boston who was facing eviction will get to stay in business after all after lawyers and advocates helped him reach an agreement with the building owner. (Boston Globe) This CommonWealth feature story last year spotlighted a Tyler Street building owned by the same Weston property owner who was trying to convert all the residential units there to Airbnb rentals.


The federal government is projecting that national health care spending will grow at an annual average rate of 5.5 percent from 2018 through 2027, with the health share of gross domestic product rising to nearly 20 percent. (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)


An art exhibit at Pilgrim Hall has been recast to showcase the women of the Mayflower who were instrumental to the survival of early Plymouth, and the Wampanoag women whose lives were thrown into upheaval by the arrival of the settlers. (Brockton Enterprise)


Lyft incorporates MBTA service options into its ride-hailing app. (CommonWealth)

The business group A Better City estimates the state is facing an $8.6 billion transportation funding shortfall over the next decade, with $6.5 billion on the highway side and $1.9 billion at the MBTA. (CommonWealth)

The Trump administration rejected tariff relief for CRRC, the Chinese company building Red and Orange Line cars for the MBTA. (MassLive)

The MBTA and its largest union are quietly renegotiating the agency’s contribution to the workers’ pension fund, as fears mount over unsustainable obligations to retired workers. (Boston Globe)

Work is accelerating on the project to replace a more than century old train bridge over the Annisquam River, and that means commuter rail service won’t go beyond the West Gloucester station this weekend. (Gloucester Daily Times)


Gordon van Welie, who oversees the regional power grid, laments the lack of action by New England states in putting a price on carbon. (CommonWealth)

A settlement could be announced as soon as today that could clear the way for a new power line delivering hydroelectricity to Massachusetts from Quebec through Western Maine. (Boston Globe)


The Massachusetts Gaming Commission votes to clear a legal path for the release of its investigative report on Steve Wynn’s sexual misconduct. It’s unclear whether that legal path will mean some information in the report will never see the light of day. (CommonWealth)


ICE is moving to deport two immigrants, including one detained during a fentanyl sting allegedly distributing the drug. (Boston Herald)

The Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers, in a court filing, is siding with a Boston police cadet who is challenging the accuracy of hair testing for drug use to determine eligibility to join the police force. (Boston Herald)

Prosecutors say US Coast Guard Officer Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson plotted to kill Democrats and journalists. (New York Times) Allegedly aiming to establish a “white homeland,” Hasson took inspiration from a Norwegian mass-murderer who killed scores of children in 2011. (Washington Post)


New York Times publisher A.J. Sulzberger issued a statement saying President Trump’s reference to the newspaper as an “enemy of the people” is false and dangerous. He said the phrase “has an ugly history of being wielded by dictators and tyrants who sought to control public information.”

Dan Kennedy thinks that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wants to “eviscerate the First Amendment” with his interest in overturning the 1964 New York Times v Sullivan decision. (Media Nation)