BOSTON -- A gang of white teenagers yelling racial slurs attacked two campaign workers handing out leaflets for the candidate seeking to become the city's first black mayor in Tuesday's election, authorities said Sunday.
It was at least the third violent incident against campaign workers from both sides in the first ever black-white mayoral final election in the city's 358-year history.
Police increased security at some of the candidates' campaign headquarters.
Irish-Catholic candidate Raymond Flynn held a 50-34 percent lead over former state representative Melvin King in the latest poll conducted by the Boston Herald.
Police said about 10 youths Saturday attacked two white campaign workers from Cambridge who were brought into the city to hand out leaflets for King in a housing project in South Boston -- a white blue collar neighborhood where race riots flared in the mid-70s to protest court-ordered busing.
A spokeswoman for King said in addition to the reported violent attacks, there have been numerous minor incidents against King campaign workers in South Boston, prompting them to refrain from sending black campaigners to the area.
'I was hit, and punched, and kicked and knocked down,' said David Holmstrom, 39, of Cambridge, who was handing out leaflets when he was surrounded by a gang of youths between the ages of 16 and 19. 'They also shouted racial epithets and so on about Mel.'
He and the other worker, David Milibrand, 18, also of Cambridge, managed to flee the area.
They did not require medical treatment.
Police began an investigation, but no arrests were reported.
King, a former radical who toned down his style in his quest for the mayorship, held a joint press conference to condemn the attack at the Old Colony housing project along with City Councilor Flynn, who lives in South Boston.
'It is important that this campaign reflect what we want for this city, and that is openness and accessibility for everyone,' King said.
Flynn also condemned the attack, saying 'this type of situation will not be tolerated.'
A spokeswoman for King said the campaign workers were brought in from Cambridge because of'a pattern of intimidation against Mel King supporters' in the virtually, all-white mostly Irish South Boston neighborhood.
King's press secretary, Jacqueline Dee, said campaign workers know 'dozens of Mel King supporters (in South Boston) who feel unable to have Mel King signs in their windows or bumper stickers on their cars' and because of that the campaign has also 'not felt it wise to have people of color campaign' there.
'Numerous incidents have taken place,' she said, 'but none were of this magnitude.'
She said past incidents include reported vandalism against cars of campaign workers.
In another incident Saturday, in the Roslindale section of the city, rocks were thrown through the windows of a King campaign office but no injuries were reported.
Two weeks ago, two black men burst into Flynn's campaign headquarters in the black section of Roxbury and pistol-whipped a black campaign worker and struggled with two others, telling them to 'get out.'