Letter: Latin Quarter name change risky

When I moved to Boston in 1973, street gangs made up of white young men in South Boston openly declared that South Boston was off limits to black people and Hispanics, and they literally killed one black Navy sailor for having the nerve to violate “their” space. Parts of Dorchester were the same way.

In Hyde Square, Hispanic gangs dealing drugs controlled Sheridan Street, Forbes Street, and Centre Street all the way down to Mozart Park. Territory and control of territory was a big, big, concern for those gangs.

The Boston police put huge amounts of effort and risk into clearing up those streets; and breaking the territorial mentality of those drug gangs. It took the BPD some four years of Herculean effort to reclaim Sheridan Street, Forbes Street, and Centre Street. Sandee Story likely remembers the gunfights that occurred in broad daylight among those gangs.

The Hyde Square Task Force itself was founded by Bill Allan, Ken Tangvik, Margaret Noce, Tom Keiffer and many many others to give Hyde Square youngsters of all ethnicities an alternative to joining those street gangs; and HSTF has had great success in that mission.

Before anyone in the City changes the name to Latin Quarter, my suggestion is—ask the Boston Police whether or not they support the idea. If they do not support it, drop it. Next ask the leaders of the street gangs that may still exist; and if they like the idea, we should also drop it. The last thing JP needs is some thug or thugs who think only Latinos are allowed into the Latin Quarter. My fear is we will retreat into cultural and racial divisions that took so very much effort to end years ago.

Frank Stone

Jamaica Plain resident

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