Boston Mayor Extends Formal Apology to Wrongly Accused Black Men in 1989 Murder Case
In a significant moment of acknowledgment and remorse, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu issued a formal apology on Wednesday to Alan Swanson and Willie Bennett, two Black men who were wrongly accused in the 1989 murder of Carol Stuart, a case that exacerbated racial divisions in a city already marked by historical tensions.
During a news conference, Mayor Wu expressed profound regret, stating, “I am so sorry for what you endured,” addressing the decades-long injustice that had tarnished the lives of Swanson and Bennett.
The accusations against Swanson and Bennett emerged in the aftermath of the October 23, 1989, death of Carol Stuart, whose husband, Charles Stuart, had orchestrated her murder. Charles, also White, had falsely attributed his wife’s killing and his own shooting to an unidentified Black assailant during what he portrayed as an attempted carjacking.
The fabricated narrative led to a police crackdown in one of the city’s traditionally Black neighborhoods, intensifying tensions and perpetuating mistrust between the police department and Boston’s Black community. Swanson and Bennett vehemently denied any involvement in Carol Stuart’s death, and neither faced formal charges.
The turning point in the case came when Charles Stuart’s brother, Matthew Stuart, confessed to assisting in hiding the murder weapon, exposing the falsehoods surrounding the accusations against Swanson and Bennett.
Mayor Wu’s formal apology signifies a commitment to rectifying historical injustices and fostering healing in a city marked by a troubled legacy of racial divisions. As Boston confronts its past, the acknowledgment of the wrongful accusations against these two men serves as a step towards reconciliation and rebuilding trust within the community.