Jean McGuire, 91, says she used self-defense training to fight off attacker, won’t walk in park alone again

“I’ve never in my 91 years not felt safe walking around the streets of Boston, day or night. Never. And now I will never go up there to the park alone again.”

Jean McGuire speaks during a Tuesday press conference. David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe

Jean McGuire, the 91-year-old Boston civil rights icon who was stabbed multiple times last week while walking her dog in Franklin Park, told reporters during a Tuesday press conference that she used her self-defense training to fight back against her attacker. 

The longtime leader of Boston’s METCO program and the first woman of color to be elected to the Boston School Committee was attacked by an unknown suspect on the evening of Oct. 11, fighting off her assailant with the help of her dog, Bailey. She was discovered by people coming from the nearby Franklin Park Zoo, who called 911. Police responded to the scene around 8:30 p.m. 


Speaking from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center where she has been treated for her injuries, McGuire said she mostly used her foot, knee, and right arm — which remained wrapped in a brace and bandages on Tuesday — to fight back against her attacker. 

The 91-year-old thanked the medical workers who cared for her and said that after the attack, she will alter her habit of walking her dog in the park alone. 

“I’ve never in my 91 years not felt safe walking around the streets of Boston, day or night,” she said. “Never. And now I will never go up there to the park alone again. … If we can’t live together without killing each other and endangering each other, we’re in real trouble.”

Her dog is doing fine after the attack, she said. 

“She’s always hungry and ready to go for a walk,” McGuire said. 

The suspect in the stabbing, who police said may have been injured during the assault, remains at-large, and police are asking anyone with information about the incident to contact detectives. 

“We want to ask our community to stand up for Jean — if you know anything, if you saw anything, please call (police),” McGuire’s nephew Ron Mitchell said during the press conference, according to WCVB. “If you saw anything, please come forward so we can get this person. Our community needs to stay safe.”


Mitchel and Mark Williams, another of McGuire’s nephews, said a fund is being set up in conjunction with The Boston Foundation — the Jean McGuire Health and Educational Fund — to help the youth of America and Boston and continue the 91-year-old’s legacy. 

They urged those who have reached out for avenues of supporting the family to support the fund instead. 

McGuire and her nephews also expressed gratitude to the two individuals who called 911, crediting them with saving her life. 

“I don’t know who they are. … You’re angels without wings,” McGuire said. “Their parents should be so proud that they cared enough to get help for somebody laying on the street bleeding. And there’s a lot I don’t remember. I don’t let it bother me now, because hey, you all took care of me. And so you move on. But you do have to be prepared to protect yourself in the future.”

A public outcry has followed the attack on McGuire, which followed a day after a 14-year-old was shot and killed in Roxbury. Community activists are calling on Boston officials to issue a safety plan in response to the stretch of violence seen in recent weeks. 


Anyone with information about the stabbing is being asked to call detectives at 617-343-4275. Anonymous tips can also be submitted by calling the CrimeStoppers Tip Line at 1-800-494-TIPS or by texting the word “TIP” to CRIME (27463).

Watch the full press conference below:


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com