My Misspent Youth – A Memoir

Once again, Marsha Graham serves as the inspiration for this post. One of her replies to a previous article reminded me of something that happened to me before I became a Citizen.

***

Whitey Bulger‘s Wanted from the Ma State Patrol. Image courtesy of
http://bostinno.com/2012/06/16/whitey-bulgers-crimes-murders-hideouts-and-gun-caches/

In 1982, several members of the Boston Police, gang raped and murdered a 16-year-old honor student at a private bar called The Silver Shield Athletic Association, in Roxbury, Ma.

The resulting investigation uncovered the largest Police corruption case in the city’s history, one of the three largest cases in the nation.

A common practice was for members of District D to pick up prostitutes on Haviland Street, Hemenway St. and Symphony Road in Boston’s seedy East-Fens area. They would offer the girls a choice. Go in for booking – or take a ride. Essentially, the girls had no choice, and saw all this as part of the cost of doing business. The cops saw it as an unwritten perquisite in their benefits package.

On the night the cops picked up Lucia Roberts, they thought she was a prostitute, and offered her the deal. She said she had no idea what they were talking about. The cops assumed she was trying to get over on them and made the decision for her. They took her to the Silver shield.

Somewhere along the line, as they took turns on her, they realized their mistake. When she threatened to bring them up on charges, they knew they had a problem.

They took her body to Morton Street and Blue Hill Avenue in Mattapan, to a place known as Lane’s Bar. In the official report, they claimed that she was trying to buy drugs at the known gang hangout.

The only people to not believe that report were the girl’s parents. They took the case all the way up the ladder, to the Federal Attorney. When all was said and done, allegations ran up the chain of command, all the way to the Commissioner. Although the Lucia Roberts incident was only the tip of the iceberg, it served as the trigger that caused their entire house of cards to fall. The cops were exposed selling drugs, laundering money and carrying out gangland executions.

http://www.bpdnews.com/2010/01/24/lucia-kai-roberts/

The Boston Globe released a report, over a thousand pages, listing names, dates and contacts. Many of the names in that report, including that of Whitey Bulger, are now household words. Months after the investigation concluded, people were still being transferred, demoted and reprimanded. A handful of the conspirators were actually fired. No one, however, served any time.

***

About three years later, a friend and I were hanging out behind a local pizza shop, smoking a joint. A cruiser pulled up along side of us and the cop got out. We tried feebly to hide the pot, but the jig was obviously, up.

The standing game, in those days, was that the cops would search us, and confiscate any marijuana they might find. They’d make a big show of telling us that they we’re going to do us a favor and not run us in. They’d get free reefer, we’d get to stay on the streets – fair deal all around. These were the rules, and we all knew how the game was played.

“No. I want to be arrested, and tomorrow morning, at the arraignment, I’d better see exactly, that amount of pot,” my friend, defiantly piped up.

“Don’t worry about him, officer, he forgot to take his medication,” I squealed, feeling the noose already tightening around my neck. “I’ll take him home,”

Again, my friend protested, throwing in the usual blather about Rights and the Constitution. Again, I managed to keep the cop from blowing his lid.

All of a sudden, this Wunderkind blurted out, “I remember the Silver Shield.”

A silence fell over all three of us, like Fenway Park, in the 9th inning of Derek Lowe’s No Hitter.

The cop took out his Tonfa baton, grabbed me, put the nightstick up against my throat, and told me, “I’ll take you out in the fucking woods and shoot you – and claim you were trying to escape.” I could see the rage in his eyes.

I learned a lot that day. I learned just how far the Constitution goes, out in our alley jury world. I learned that stupid friends could get you killed. I learned that Justice rarely lands on the truly deserving – but above all, I learned, don’t piss off cops.

 

 

5 thoughts on “My Misspent Youth – A Memoir

  1. I used to work with the police extensively in Idaho and Alaska. I often comment that there are the good, the bad, and the ugly. Most cops simply want to do their job and go home (alive). Many are actually concerned with the community. Some are total losers – corrupt, abusers, or “cowboys.” Some are really ugly – like the one who attacked a gay friend of mine and ground his face into the pavement so hard he still carries the scars. He is an attorney and I wanted to know why he didn’t protest – but you’re taking Boston cops and I suspect he wanted to keep on breathing.

    In Idaho I knew a very corrupt city cop who used to bust kids, confiscate their weed, and then when he got them to jail there was just enough to use for the bust. Once I saw him take an enormous baggie and verified that the kid in question had almost none upon booking. I made contact with the brand new Sheriff of the county whom I’d worked with when he was a deputy. It took a little while, but I was involved in having this jerk take a fall and end up in prison. It was such a complete and total bust I didn’t even have to testify. I hope he enjoyed his time there for drug possession and dealing.

    Good cops are humiliated and enraged by dirty cops. Allegedly there are more professionals on the force these days. However, there are always going to be dangerous cops. We can only hope there end up being more like Serpico than there are criminal cops. The really good cops, the ones who care about doing a good job and who are ethical and honest have my utmost respect. I’ve met a whole lot of them in my life and my hat is off to them. To the scumbags – I hope they end up in prison with the dirty cop I helped send to prison.

    I have a lot of cop stories – some about truly good and even heroic cops, some about disasters looking for a place to happen, which is why I believed you.

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  2. Thanks for the great comment, Marsha. I too, know many dedicated and honest cops – and never meant to imply that they’re all dirty. It’s just that whatever else can be said about my life – it’s never been boring. 🙂

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