40 black clergy members endorse Flaherty for Mayor

40 black clergy members endorse Flaherty

Councilor at Large Michael F. Flaherty Jr., who is challenging Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s bid for a fifth term, won the endorsement yesterday of about 40 African-American clergy members and minority activists who assailed Menino for what they called his failure to lower the student dropout rate, stem youth homicides, and diversify the upper ranks of the Police Department.

The endorsements were announced at a press conference outside the Boston School Department, just over a week after 20 black ministers endorsed Menino’s reelection campaign.

“I’m not here because of business, because I was promised a job, or because I was told I better be here,’’ said the Rev. Bruce H. Wall, pastor of Global Ministries Church in Dorchester, standing with other clergy members beside Flaherty and Councilor at Large Sam Yoon, who Flaherty has pledged to name as deputy mayor. “I’m here because in order for our city to move forward, I believe we need a change in leadership in City Hall.’’

The Menino campaign dismissed Flaherty’s endorsements. “What you saw today was more of a divisive demonstration than something that bought people together,’’ said Nick Martin, a spokesman for the Menino campaign. “When the mayor was endorsed by faith leaders two weeks ago, you saw the power partnerships there, so those are individuals who he has worked with throughout his entire career to make a better Boston.’’

But the clergy who endorsed Flaherty said it is time for a change at City Hall.

“It is time for a change in leadership, because Mayor Menino’s response to the killing of our children is that the deaths in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan are not significant because the death count is not as high as other cities,’’ Wall said.

Wall also criticized Menino for failing to diversify the Police Department. Of the department’s nearly 2,200 officers, 34.5 percent are minorities. In the command staff, which includes 21 deputy superintendents and superintendents, 38 percent are minorities. Boston’s population overall is about 50 percent minority.