Two Years Ago This Week, Racial Hatred Came to Our Area

It was two years ago this coming week when an unspeakable act of violence, motivated by racial hatred, befell the nearby peaceful community of Winthrop.

The tranquility of a typical, early-summer, Saturday afternoon in that seaside community was shattered when a 28 year-old white man, a native of Wareham who had been living in Winthrop for a short time with his wife, shot two Black persons, 60 year-old Ramona Cooper, a retired Air Force veteran who only recently had moved to Winthrop, and 68 year-old David Green, a Winthrop native and retired State Trooper who was beloved in the Winthrop community, in cold blood when their paths crossed on Shirley St. near Cross St., for no other reason than the color of their skin.

Thanks to the quick response of Winthrop police and the heroism of Sgt. Nicholas Bettano, the suspect himself was shot in the street when he refused to put down his weapons (he was armed with two handguns). It is believed that the shooter, whose belongings later were found to contain white supremacist and anti-Semitic literature, was en route to the nearby local temple and synagogue with the intent of perpetrating a mass shooting incident before he was stopped by Sgt. Bettano.

To be sure, both Ramona Cooper and David Green happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, given that the shooter did not fire his weapon at white passers-by, his intent to shoot them solely because they were Black is undeniable.

Those of us who live in the Boston area like to think that we are immune from the sort of bigotry-inspired acts of violence that make the headlines in other states where gun laws are non-existent. However, the Anti-Defamation League recently reported that acts of anti-Semtiism have spiked in Massachusetts in the past two years, more than doubling from 2020 to 2022. The sad fact is that no place in America is immune from the virus of prejudice.

For those of us who have called this area our home for many years, we still shudder whenever we visit Winthrop and drive down Shirley St. toward Cross St. — the events of June 26, 2021, are just too terrible to contemplate.

However, the best way that we can honor the memories of Ramona Cooper and David Green is never to forget that tragic and horrible day and resolve to do whatever we can to end the evils of racism and all other forms of prejudice that are far too prevalent throughout our society.

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