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News :: DNC : Race
Secret Service Agent Found Liable for Violating Fourth Amendment at the DNC
19 Mar 2010
Last Friday, March 12, a federal jury found Secret Service agent Darin Czellecz liable for violating the Fourth Amendment rights of Vijay Shah at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Boston in July 2004. Shah had filed a civil suit against two agents, Czellecz and JW Holloway, as a response to being detained and interrogated without reasonable suspicion during a march protesting the DNC. Quoted in an article on IndiaWest.com, Shah said “All of a sudden, two guys grabbed me from behind and shoved me into an alley, then forced me to sit down on some steps and handcuffed me.” Shah was held for about five hours while being interrogated. John Pavlos, a lawyer, intervened with the police on Shah's behalf, but was not allowed to be present during the interrogation. Pavlos also represented Shah in the lawsuit.
Shah's treatment appears to have been part of a larger pattern of racial profiling by the Secret Service during the DNC. Two other men of South Asian descent, Sundeep Sahni and Arjun Mendiratta, were also detained by the Secret Service on questionable legal grounds. A Boston Phoenix article entitled "Idling While Brown" pointed out that the three constituted half the six arrests made at the DNC, in spite of the fact that the vast majority of protesters were white. Agents claimed that Shah was behaving suspiciously because he didn't chant during the march.

The verdict against Czellecz is considered unusual by legal observers, since courts and juries tend to favor police. Irene Glassman, writing for openmediaboston.org, called it "an amazing verdict." Glassman also described what the judge in the case referred to as a "phalanx" of Secret Service agents in the courtroom in a "choreographed" show of support for Czellecz and Holloway. Shah originally included three Boston police officers who helped arrest him in the suit, but the claims against them were dismissed by a judge in 2008. It is not yet known whether Czellecz will appeal the verdict.

Shah told Boston Indymedia "We the people should not give in to fear at the expense of our freedom. I firmly believe that we can remain both safe and free."

Further reading:
http://www.openmediaboston.org/node/1204
http://www.indiawest.com/readmore.aspx?id=2067&sid=1
http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/news_features/other_stories/multipag

This work is in the public domain.
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