Henriquez arrest takes toll on state of black politics

Kevin C. Peterson | 7/11/2012, 10:02 a.m.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Robert De Leo said the arrest would be taken “very seriously,” suggesting that Henriquez may be stripped of his legislative committee assignments.

A scion of a local political family, Henriquez is the son of the late Julio Henriquez who served in Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn’s administration as the director of an anti-gang program.

Sandra Henriquez, an undersecretary of housing for president Obama, is his mother. While not well-known to voters outside his district, Henriquez has been considered a rising star among Beacon Hill observers and lawmakers. He has been praised for quickly learning the rules of the body and coming under the tutelage of respected inside party players.

Henriquez’s troubles come at a time when the city’s black and Latino community is slowly healing from a series of deeply inflicted wounds to its political infrastructure in recent years.

Last year, State Senator Dianne Wilkerson and Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner — two of the city’s most recognized elected officials — were sent to federal prison on anti-corruption charges.

Many at the courthouse supporting Henriquez conceded that the charges against him would temporarily alter the trajectory of what was considered the beginning of an auspicious political career.

But, most of them lamented over the exorbitant cost that will be exacted to breach the collateral political damage brought on by the arrest.

Fatigued by recent political scandal and ridicule, voters as well as black and Latino leaders face the Herculean task of repairing the reputation and capacity of so-called minority communities.