Michael Cox was beaten by Boston police. Now he leads them.

Even as Bertha Cox’s memory was dimming and she didn’t recognize her son when he visited her in the nursing home, Michael Cox’s mother did recognize his blue Boston police officer’s uniform and what it meant. She told fellow residents she believed that the man wearing it would always protect her. 

For her, a police officer was a trusted figure – in spite of it all.

While on duty as a plainclothes officer with the Boston Police Department (BPD) in 1995, Mr. Cox – who is Black – was mistaken for a gang member by a group of fellow officers chasing a suspect. He was thrown to the ground and brutally beaten. And when the officers realized their mistake, they left him lying seriously injured in the icy January night.

Why We Wrote This

How the survivor of a racist police beating rose quietly to lead Boston law enforcement is a story of trust in the system and perseverance.

The episode spooled out into a reckoning of the city’s racist tensions and history of forced desegregation – at the heart of which is the police department charged with serving and protecting neighborhoods from the tony lanes of Beacon Hill to some of the dangerous streets of Roxbury and Dorchester. 

Mr. Cox – with his mother and large extended family supporting him – fought the institution’s “blue wall of silence,” that unwritten cop-protecting-cop code, to win a $1.3 million settlement. And, despite his fight against the department, he was able to salvage his career and rise in rank, managing various divisions before moving on in 2019 to lead the Ann Arbor, Michigan, Police Department.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff

Boston’s new police commissioner, Michael Cox, wears his new badge.

His professional trajectory was a quiet epic of resilience and trust for the son of a Black family who fled the racist violence and poverty of the Jim Crow South in the Great Migration, staking claim to a middle-class life in the relative safety of Boston. Mr. Cox was born in 1965 at the height of the civil rights movement and was raised in a family that respected and trusted the law enforcement community.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *