Historic news footage of the group of East Boston mothers that took on Logan Airport Expansion in the late 1960s has been digitally remastered.
The Maverick Street Mothers protest was in response to the construction trucks bringing fill for a Logan expansion project. The trucks drove very fast down the densely populated Maverick Street, creating an unsafe situation for children, the elderly and the mothers that took their children out for walks or to run errands.
The 11 minute film shows the mothers blocking Maverick Street and forcing the construction trucks to a standstill. State police arrive on the scene and manhandle some of the Eastie mothers–led by Eastie icons like Anna DeFronzo and Karen Maddalena, arrested men that joined the protest as well as on site speeches by former State Rep. George DiLorenzo and State Sen. Mario Umana.
The news footage culminates with former Mayor Kevin White arriving in Eastie to join with the Maverick Mothers and community and put an end to the trucks using the residential street.
The news footage was painstakingly restored by Eastie resident and Head of Special Collections and University Archivist at Northeastern University Giordana Mecagni.
On September 28, 1968 a group of mothers gathered in what was to become a historic protest against the Port Authority and airport expansion.
The group became known as the ‘Maverick Street Mothers’ and their protest became the true beginning of environmental justice in Eastie and marked the opening salvo and first victory in the neighborhood’s famed transportation justice struggles.
“As a young mother, my involvement as a community activist started,” said Maddalena during a Massport dedication of a plaque honoring the mothers in 2015. “I joined my friends and neighbors to protest the huge trucks carrying fill along Maverick Street to the bird island flats section of the airport.”
After a series of meetings with Massport officials there was no relief in spite of the residents simply asking the Port Authority to use another route to haul the fill.
Frustration was growing in the neighborhood and DiLorenzo met with the Maverick Street residents and the group decided to meet on the street the next day and block the trucks. People felt this radical ‘sit in’ approach could be effective.
It was decided that only women and children would participate in the demonstration because many felt if men were involved it might lead to fights and violence. The group notified the media, put out a simple press release and on the next day, September 28, the demonstration began.
As the dump trucks arrived the mothers, most pushing their children in baby carriages, blocked the street.
“When the first truck arrived there was a lot of noise with the drivers yelling and cursing at the mothers,” Maddalena remembers. “The trucks began to roll closer and closer to the protesters and someone called the State Police.”
As seen in the film the State Police arrived to restore order to the street and when the Maverick Mothers refused to back down the State Police began to drag and push the mothers to the sidewalk so the trucks could continue. However, White, who was being kept abreast of the situation, sent in the Boston Police to counter the State Police’s use of force.
The Boston Police made the trucks stop and ordered the protest to continue.
That night the event was all over the evening news.
When Massport caught wind the protests would not end and continued the next day, Eastie’s elected officials pointed out that there were several other viable truck routes on Massport property that could be used.
After negotiations, Massport agreed to use the alternative truck routes and the Maverick Mothers scored a major victory during the era of Logan expansion.