The Friends invite you to this evening with journalist, novelist and teacher Jan Brogan to discuss her book, The Combat Zone: Murder, Race and Boston’s Struggle for Justice. It was the most publicized murder of the 1970s. The victim, Harvard football star Andrew Puopolo, an Italian-American star athlete, had grown up in the city’s North End, then the local headquarters for the mob. Three Black men were charged with the murder in the crime-ridden Combat Zone, the four blocks of downtown Boston designated for adult entertainment. Whispers of Mafia revenge after the murder grew so loud that many in the media didn’t think there would ever be a trial.
There were two. The suspects were tried during the height of the city’s busing violence. Verdicts swung radically in two and a half volatile years. The jury decisions may have said more about the city than about the facts of the case, and left the victim’s family to struggle with the very definition of justice.
While many in Boston and around Harvard remember the murder, few know about the lasting impact the trials had on criminal justice, changing the way juries in Massachusetts and eventually, the nation, are selected by ending the once common practice of striking potential jurors based on race or ethnicity.
Jan Brogan has been a journalist for more than thirty years, working as a correspondent for the Boston Globe, a staff writer for the Worcester Telegram and the Providence Journal, where she won the Gerald Loeb award for distinguished business writing. She is the award-winning author of four mysteries, Final Copy, Confidential Source, Yesterday’s Fatal, and Teaser.
Come meet Jan Brogan on Wednesday, February 15 at 7 pm in the Community Room (lower level) of the Robbins Library. The event is free and open to all.