First Published: Harvard Crimson, October 9, 1973.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Three Harvard students were among 14 demonstrators arrested Saturday for trespassing in the advertising offices of The Boston Globe while protesting what they called “racist coverage” of two Boston murders last week.
The demonstrators, all of whom belong to either the Progressive Labor Party (PLP) or the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), said reporting by The Globe and The Boston Herald American of the burning death of Evelyn Wagler Tuesday night and the stabbling death of Louis Barba on Thursday “made it look like blacks were on the rampage” and contributed to the spread of anti-black hysteria throughout the city.
Initial press reports blamed Barba’s death at Columbia Point, a predominantly black housing project in Dorchester, on black youths seen throwing rocks at Barba on Thursday. Autopsy results, however, showed that the cause of death was stabbing, and police later arrested two suspects for murder and robbery.
“We think this racism is being built up by the newspapers, the police and government officials in order to keep people fighting each other instead of uniting to fight the problems they must face,” Thomas R. Bailey ’72-3, one of the arrested students, said yesterday.
Craig S. Steele ’74 and Esther Johns ’74-3 were also among those arrested. The other demonstrators belong to PLP or SDS chapters at Boston University and Northeastern.
After entering The Globe’s Morrisey Blvd. building, the demonstrators asked to speak to Globe editor Thomas Winship and demanded that The Globe print a PLP statement denouncing the coverage of the murders on the first page of its Sunday edition.
Although Winship was not in the building at the time, the students insisted that he be called in and said they would remain in the display advertising office until he appeared.
John C. Burke, assistant metropolitan editor, and Timothy Leland, the ranking editor in the building, spoke to the demonstrators and asked them to move to another room for discussion. When they refused to move until their demands were met, Leland asked the 20 policemen assembled outside of the room to remove the protestors and arrest them for trespassing.
Edward J. Doherty, managing editor of The Globe, said yesterday that although the conspiracy charge is “wild, radical and irrational,” the editors take seriously the allegations of bias in coverage of the murders and other incidents involving blacks.
“There may be some validity to their contention,” Doherty said. “The fact is that the media and the public got excited about this much more than they probably would have if it had happened to a black person.”
He said that Globe reporters spent all day and night Thursday attempting to confirm a police report that Barba’s death was caused by stones thrown by a crowd of black youths. Friday’s first edition relied on the police report and attributed the death to the black youths.
The autopsy, which showed that Barba died from hemorrhaging as a result of stab wounds, was released at midnight Friday and The Globe changed the story for the later editions, Doherty said.
The 14 demonstrators will be arraigned in Dorchester District Court this morning.