Mothers for Adequate Welfare Sit in and Police Riot—June 1967

Fact Sheet

by Candelaria Silva and Marcia Butman

Welfare mothers organized as Mothers for Adequate Welfare in 1965 to receive respect and better treatment from the welfare department.
They organized several protests: 1965 a sit in at the welfare dept on Hawkins street; July 1966, marched on the state house; May 26, 1967 staged an all night site in at the Blue Hill Ave office. Their grievances were not addressed.

Friday June 2, 1967 in the late afternoon, MAW arrived at the center with a delegation of 25 black and white mothers and some college student supporters.
They chained the doors shut from the inside, preventing 58 welfare workers from leaving. A fire engine and police arrived. A crowd began to gather. Police reported that they had received a call from inside that an elderly worker had a heart attack. Mayor Collins ordered the police to get her out and empty the building.
Police attempted to open the locked doors, and clashed with bystanders who tried to prevent access. The police assembled in Franklin Park.

A few minutes later the police using fire ladders climbed through a rear window. Minutes later a women screamed from one of the windows that the police were beating people with night sticks. Police then broke through the doorways, carried out the sick woman and started escorting welfare workers out of windows and down the ladders. They carried out two women demonstrators who screamed for help.

The police dragged a dozen or so male demonstrators who were outside and threw them into patrol wagons. Small stones and bottles starting whistling through the air.
Police emptied the building but by then a full scale riot ensued, over 15 blocks of Blue Hill Ave. Smashed windows, pulled fire alarms, pelting police with rocks and debris.
Police arrested 44 people, 45 were injured. Rioting again on the next night and more serious violence the next night. 1900 police were called in. By Monday the violence subsided.

Byron Rushing, now State Representative, was arrested twice. Tom Atkins (vice chair of the NAACP and soon to be City Councillor) was clubbed and then arrested for standing on the steps of a building

Source: Tager, Jack. Boston Riots: Three Centuries of Social Violence. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2001. pp178-184.

What MAW wants, the demands of the welfare mothers . From Batson, Ruth. The Black Educatioinal Movement in Boston: A Sequence of Historical Events. Boston: Northeastern University, 2001. p. 279a

1.No denial of aid based on hearsay evidence or malicious gossip.
There must be investigations before checks are cut off.

2. Removal of police from all welfare offices.

3. Welfare workers must be available every morning to talk with recipients—
not just one day a week.

4. Welfare workers must respect clients and treat them as equal human beings.
Workers must have the power to make decisions quickly without running to supervisors.

5. There must be boards set up in each office, with a majority of recipients, that can act on emergency demands and policy statements without waiting for the long appeal process.

6. Welfare mothers must be appointed on all policy making boards of welfare.

7. All mothers should be able to save as much as they can for their children's education—
and each dollar should be matched by the welfare department—so that our children won’t be on welfare too.

8.Mothers should be able to earn $85 a month and to keep 70% of the amount above $85.There should be no deductions of this money mothers earn.

9. There should be a campaign to change the image of the welfare system. 99% of recipients are honest and responsible.

10.Welfare director Cronin should be dismissed—and we should be able to have a say in who replaces him.

Sequence of events on the night of June 2-3, 1967. From Batson, Ruth. The Black Educational Movement in Boston, p.280. CIted The Boston Globe, June 4, 1967

8:10pm- Police form flying wedge and escort workers out of welfare office. Numerous arrests made.

8:45pm-Atty. Archie Williams charged police brutality after flying wedge incident and arrests. Police arrested Williams. Crowd begins to dissipate in Grove Hall.

9:25pm-Police ordered all cars stopped at Dudley and Warren Sts., blocked passage of Blue Hill Ave. and detoured traffic from the Grove Hall section.

10:00pm-Police reported at least 30 stores windows smashed by looting gangs.

10:11pm-Furniture store ablaze at 300 Blue Hill Ave. Firemen answered numerous fire calls and boxes pulled between 9pm and 11pm.

12:05pm-Mulloney ordered policemen to remain on duty force up to 1700.

12:15pm-Comr. Edmund L. McNamara and Supt. John T. Rowland met with Kenneth Guscott, President of the Boston Branch of the NAACP, Thomas Atkins (NAACP official); Guido St. Laurent, Director of NEGRO; James Bishop, Governor Volpe's Secretary for Interracial Relations; and Atty. Sanford Kowal.

2:15pm-Atkins and Mass. Council of Churches Field Secretary Byron Rushing arrested.

2:30am-Police fire 60 to 100 rounds of gunfire over heads of crowd of 200 at Intervale St. and Blue Hill Ave.

4:30am-Police repored most incidents ended, area quiet.

The Boston Globe, Jube 4, 1967.