A city is built on stories, and one of Boston’s most misunderstood tales ended last week at the J. Joseph Moakley federal courthouse. Whitey Bulger gave his family a defiant thumbs up after a jury convicted him of 11 murders, shredding whatever was left of his reputation as a gangster with a sense of loyalty and purpose. He killed at least one woman. He protected drug dealers in his own neighborhood. He snitched to the FBI. He, and the parade of thugs who took the witness stand to detail their own and Whitey’s activities, showed themselves to be nothing less than vicious criminals, but also nothing more. No star-studded infamy should await them. The trial demolished Bulger's romantic image of his gang, categorically disproving a mythology that glorified Bulger — and diminished the city he operated in.
In doing so, the verdict also makes it possible for Boston to tell a more hopeful story, and a more accurate story, about itself.