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News :: Human Rights
Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
01 Jun 2004
Joe Previtera, a twenty one year old student at Boston College, was arrested Wednesday and charged with felonies after dressing as a hooded Iraqi prisoner in front of a military recruitment center on Tremont St. in downtown Boston. In his arraignment today a Suffolk County District Attorney suggested that Mr. Previtera's bail be set at $10,000. However, a National Lawyers Guild attorney and Mr. Previtera's mother, also an attorney, persuaded the judge to free Previtera on personal recognizance.
Previtera faces misdemeanor charges of disturbing the peace and felony charges of making a false bomb threat and using a hoax device. The charges apparently reflect the District Attorney's concern that Mr. Previtera might have been mistaken for a terrorist. Witnesses say that passersby seemed unconcerned by Mr. Previtera's actions.

After his release today, Previtera said his arrest took him completely by surprise. "I did this hoping that the image of an abused Iraqi prisoner might make people think twice about joining the military ... both for their own safety and because of the abuses they might be asked to committ. Is it reasonable that I face greater punishment for my free speech than do the soldiers who actually committ abuses? Well, this is post-911 America, isn't it?"

to see the video of this action go to:
http://boston.indymedia.org/media/all/display/4486

press contact:
Carl Williams
carlton (at) igc.org
617-233-5432 cl
617-445-6666
See also:
http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/21845/index.php

This work is in the public domain.
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Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
27 May 2004
The dude was lucky. His mother was a lawyer! Any poor person? Would have been sitting in the slammer!
At least he got to protest for 10 minutes! How un-American is that?
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
27 May 2004
Pig Ashcroft was just warning us all about dudes with wires hanging out of loose clothing!

I guess this is just he beginning of the summer of oppression, oops! I meant terrorism.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
28 May 2004
hurrah! what a brave and appropriate and necessary thing to do! his mother must be so proud! i would be!and i know of so many vets that would applaud this since it illustrates their dilemma.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
28 May 2004
wow.. this is fukked up! ithe charge didnt even make any sense to me (aside from the "i'm gonna fuck you up" comment from one of the recruiter staffers to one of the protesters, you figure they'll find a way!) until Sam below mentioned wires hanging out of loose closing. huh what? it's still a loooong stretch.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
28 May 2004
i applaud joe's efforts to protest the war. i think it's wack that we our first amendment is getting thrown away like that. the government thinks they can do wahtever they want...it's gotta end this war in a Iraq is crap and it's gotta end.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
28 May 2004
I support Joe, And totaly agree with his statement .
His arrest was Bull! he was well within his rights and peaceful!
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
28 May 2004
Thank you Joe for having the bravery to do this.

Your display will turn the tide.

Kudos...brother...
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
28 May 2004
Another fine example of the USA (UN)PATRIOT Act at work. What was the actual charge? Was it disturbing the peace? Was Joe actually jumping out in front of people and flailing his arms at them or something? Was he blocking the doors? Was he doing anything at all other than standing there? So what could he have been charged with other than envoking his Constitutional rights?

My hat is off to you, Joe, for having the courage to stand up for what is right. Way to go. If I were in Boston I'd join you and gather more people to protest with you.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
28 May 2004
Wow, this guy is wonderful! My husband will be so proud that a student at his old school, Boston College, has had the courage and smarts to do this.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
29 May 2004
I am a performance artist who did a similar piece on the Boston Common on May 21st. I was wondering if JP or any of his fellow activists saw my piece? It would be great to know that my work inspired someone else's action...but if not it's still great to know that we're on the same page. I would like to contact him or the person who posted the article to find out if there is a connection. thanks
r hill
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
29 May 2004
Welcome to the police state. If Joe Previtera gets this for a simple, non-violent, direct action, then I can only imagine what's going to happen to us at the DNC and RNC this summer.

Is that going to stop me from going?

Hell no.

No acquiesence to fascism. No justice. No peace.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
29 May 2004
I'm wondering why the article didn't mention that he was charged with making a bomb threat, because when he was originally questioned up on that milk crate about the wires in his hands, he said "If I let them go, this thing will go off."

Sounds like a bomb threat to me.

But of course, you won't here that on here, just a very accurate and through account of everything before and after that particular 10-second exchange.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
29 May 2004
To Both Sides:

So maybe he said something to that affect (above post) when questioned about a bomb. And maybe that resulted in his felony charge. The reality though is that this kid is being charged with a politicaly motivated felony citation. The state has no case, and if this charge is not dismissed then it will become plain to see that Mr. Previtera is one of the newly arrested political prisoners in the U.S.

I would say that even with his statement, made while he was "in character" I might add, that this charge will be dropped. It will then be used to scare all the Boston kids into non-action.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
29 May 2004
To Both Sides:

So maybe he said something to that affect (above post) when questioned about a bomb. And maybe that resulted in his felony charge. The reality though is that this kid is being charged with a politicaly motivated felony citation. The state has no case, and if this charge is not dismissed then it will become plain to see that Mr. Previtera is one of the newly arrested political prisoners in the U.S.

I would say that even with his statement, made while he was "in character" I might add, that this charge will be dropped. It will then be used to scare all the Boston kids into non-action.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
29 May 2004
Both Sides, what is the source for your statement? Were you a witness? A police officer involved? A bystander? A military recruiter?

I could state that several of the police (off camera) were wearing pirate hats and eye patches. But why on earth would you believe that if I didn't give my name or contact info, didn't say how I had this info, and provided nothing to back it up?

Your allegation still wouldn't justify the police response here, nor does it fit with the narrative in the original post at http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/21845/index.php which states that the police did not arrest Joe until he attampted to leave. So unless you have something more substantial to say, I'm not impressed.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
30 May 2004
what a joke those felony charges are, the system sucks, POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
31 May 2004
I am curious if the DA thinks he has a real case or this is just another example of Boston Police goons interpreting the law without regards for civil rights or the First Admendment. It is interesting that the police play the "worker" angle when taking "sick" days prior to contract negotiations.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
31 May 2004
Are the lack of media reports on this story the result of bias or that not enough people promoted the story to the press?

It's very odd that this wasn't picked up at least by the wire services. IME, reporters like doing stories about freedom of speech issues. But maybe Boston is different.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
31 May 2004
Watch as the police state takes your rights away.
Sue the crap out of the city!
31 May 2004
Sue the crap out of the city - anytime the police try to trample an extremely effective political comment like that, they deserve to get sued.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
31 May 2004
This is EXACTLY the problem with a "Crusade" against the "Godless" where we need to beat people into accepting their fundamental rights!
It is imperative that we create a climate for freedom of speach and by God, if they don't appreciate it we will use whatever force is required to make the appreciate what we are doing for them!
Protecting speach you agree with is easy. Where it really matters most is when we protect speach that we don't agree with. That is what should make America the shining example.
Shame on Boston with its proud heritage of political action and its birthplace of our right to disagree with those that are in power.
To the officers, the difference between you and the Nazis should be more than the color of the shirt! I do not want, nor need your protection of my sensibilities.
If you have a personal opinion then you need to be professional enough to separate it from your public actions. If you can't, then I humbly suggest a career change.
As a disabled veteran, the reason I served and sacraficed wasn't to protect that officer, but to protect that protester!

Darren M. Peterson
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
01 Jun 2004
The criminal in the Abu Graib prison was in the same "danger" as this guy. Only the guy's mind was being messed with! What a bunch of ninnies you supporters are. Don't you know the info gained from the prisoners might save innocent lives? The hooded criminal should consider himself lucky. Had he not been guarded by Americans, he may have ended up like Nick Berg instead of made to balance on a box with a hood over his head. All you "abuse demonstrators" are doing is encouraging and supporting terrorists. You aren't saving anyone's lives except those that wish to see the Middle East run by thugs and freedom haters. You should think about the consequences of your actions and thank your lucky stars you live in a country where bomb hoaxes will get you jail time but you get to keep your limbs.
America's Downward Spiral
01 Jun 2004
What? Charges for disturbing the peace? Ha. What a joke, America. Look how ironic this article is, just take a step back. America as a whole should be charged with disturbance of the peace of the world, but, obviously, who wants to protest big bad America if all it get you is jail or a WAR. I'm becoming ever more cynical, and I think others are too, of governments and their accountability. As outlined by this protester, it's simply a joke. Good job, Joe Previtera.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
01 Jun 2004
Thank you, Joe.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
01 Jun 2004
Constitutional rights are overrated anyway.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
01 Jun 2004
Regarding the above post supporting the actions of the police. So you're saying it's alright for Americans to torture Iraqi prisoners of war because the information that they might get may save your chickenshit life? So then does that make it alright then for Iraqi soldiers to torture American prisoners in order to save the life of one of their people? This man was exercising his right of freedom of action and speech, was hurting nobody, and was making a political statement that is shared by millions around the world. We should be proud of him, not throw him the clink....
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
01 Jun 2004
It's ok to be a promoter of free speech but there are those who go TOO far. If you want to protest by dressing up as a prisoner of ABu Ghraib you had better let someone know first (and I mean law enforcement). Plus the charges of calling in a bomb threat with a hoax device? If this guy actually did this stuff then he deserved to be arrested, it's common sense in this day and age. It doesn't take a damn genius to know there are repercussions for idiotic actions. But If he DIDN'T actually call in a threat with a hoax device and all that then he'll have to take his protests at a different angle next time. It's unfortunate but what are you going to do?
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
01 Jun 2004
The actions of a few do not reflect the rest of the military. Ask my bother, a medic in Iraq who treats enemy solders everyday, and they get better treatment than they give us. I have no problem with the protester being arrested.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
01 Jun 2004
thanks, joe, for having the willingness and actually going out there to stand up for whats right. Judging by how many people have responded that they are "pissed off" about the system, it seems like the DNC riot pigs will have quite a crowd on thier hands. That is, if all these people who claim that they are upset, do like joe and actually get up and DO SOMETHING about it, even if it's just showing up for demonstrations. I'm not just talking to all the kids out there who are trying to change the world, I'm talking about all you adults out there who have just given up on this place- we all need you.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
01 Jun 2004
I think the police officers are wrong, but then again i should shut up or they will also, like JP, arrest me for speaknig my mind. That's bull
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
01 Jun 2004
The Police in any State primarily function to reinforce the status quo, and any attendant social norms, which means any noticeable attempt at subversion is eventually met with hostility and violence. The masses cannot be led astray from our one-dimensionality by a free-thinking critic. especially not in these delicate times of terrorism. fear must reign, and the people must be pumped up on nationalism, having full confidence in the power of the State which can do no wrong in it's "crusade" against the "evil-doers" (Bush's words). If he hadn't been in such a public area and while being documented with a camera, I am sure that JP would've faced much harsher treatment. I applaud him for his courage - this action sheds light on how an oppressive system built on hate, greed, conquest, and repression responds to criticism -- and to what extent these defects run in our society. And I hope and pray for the best for him - scott
This was completely rediculous
01 Jun 2004
I am a marine and a political science major and persoanlly very offended by this assholes gall. This article was totally biased on the side of the protestor, what ever happened to unbiased media? Why dont we have pro-military people out there with pictures of the American with his head cut off to push people into going into the military? I dont argue the fact that this is free speach and he was exercising his rights, but he has no clue what is really going on over there. Everything that we see in pictures of us doing to them, they are doing to our soldiers, and probably much worse, but you dont see iraquis standing there defending Americans because their people decapitate our soldiers.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
01 Jun 2004
I think there are a few folks here trying to create doubt about the facts. The thing that made this action very powerful was that it was heavily documented. There is video, photo, and audio recordings of this event. I have been told by sources close to JP that there is absolutely nothing credible about this "bomb threat" charge. The officers apparently were casually relaxing only a few yards away from JP while the bomb squad was called. Not to mention that JP was in shorts and a t-shirt, the black cape could be seen through, and all he had with him was a milk crate and two wires. Anybody with two brain cells would have been absolutely certain that JP was not carrying a bomb at the time. If you still persist, watch the video for yourself here. http://boston.indymedia.org/media/all/display/4486
A similar action was also carried out in DC and the cops did not react the same way. see pics- http://dc.indymedia.org/newswire/display_any/97365
by the way- If anyone knows the parties involved in this DC protest please contact Boston IMC at

boston-imc-office ( at ) indymedia.org or Carl Williams at

carlton ( at ) iqc.org
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
02 Jun 2004
I think a few things need to be put into perspective here regarding the pro-war people and how it all relates to this protest.

First of all, we MUST have free speech - which means freedom from censorship of opinion. Right now we live in a system run by a VERY powerful government who is not afraid to flex its muscle and put down any and all criticism. Further, this same government is equally willing to legislate thought and morals. As C.S. Lewis said, "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive." This is what we are seeing from the Federal Government - they feel it is their duty to legislate morals and thought patterns. The fact that this also puts down criticism of their actions is simply a fringe benefit and a necessary step in maintaining - and increasing - their power and reach.

Secondly, it should be stated plainly for the record that our actions in Iraq are unfounded. Simply stated, we have no legitimate reason to be there in the first place. No "terrorism" connection has ever been shown or in any way proven. One might contend that Hussein was a terrorist of his people, but again, that is simply none of our business. It is not the duty or even the right of the American government to unilaterally interfere in the government of any other country in the world. Period.

Thirdly, I think it should also be noted that we can NOT compare the actions of our soldiers to the actions of the Iraqui's who are defending their country and way of life from total outsiders. There is simply NO comparison possible here except by overly-nationalistic individuals here at home. Let's put this into perspective...

Russia invades the United States under dubious justifications. They attack out of the clear blue and we're somehow, against all odds, over-run and our government leaders captured. They bomb our cities in their efforts to track down perceived terrorist threats, they kill innocents in their great purge, and then they decide they're going to install a government based on their own value and belief system (i.e. a whole other religion). What do we, as the "invaded", do against these scum who have stepped across our borders and destroyed our way of life? Do we treat them nicely and ask them politely to leave or do we root them out at every turn and torture/kill/whatever it takes to get rid of the bastards???

It should not be forgotten that to the Iraqui's, WE are the terrorists. Just because we *think* we're the good guys doesn't make it so. Also, because we're the invaders in this case, it's up to us (i.e. our government and our soldiers) to aspire to a higher level of professionalism and decorum. WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THE GOOD GUYS COME TO HELP THE IRAQUI PEOPLE....AND WE'RE TORTURING OUR PRISONERS...AND THIS IS OKAY WITH SOME PEOPLE??? Get a grip, people!! Why do you think the rest of the world has reason to fear and hate us - we are the rich bullies on the block throwing our weight around and we find nothing we need to answer for - no matter what we do, it's all for the best. This is asinine and the rest of the world can see that.

We MUST get out of Iraq soon. This insanity must end and we need to reclaim our country. I think the time has come to stop the bullshitting, wake the f!@$#% up, and smell the shit stinking up our own back yards. The United States needs to change. We have plenty of problems right here at home that need our attention…does anyone think it’s reasonable to spend BILLIONS of dollars overseas rebuilding a foreign power who would sooner see us dead while hunger, homelessness, crime, and environmental issues exist right here at home? Imagine if these billions spent in Iraq were directed towards alternate fuel research?

Lastly, does anyone remember Afghanistan or Osama Bin Ladin, the real terrorists?
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
03 Jun 2004
Wired war protester gets break
By Laurel J. Sweet
Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Prosecutors are considering ``amending'' bomb-threat charges against a Boston College student who mimicked an infamous photo from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq to protest inmate abuse by American armed forces.

``The young man's appearance was putting some passers-by in fear,'' David Procopio, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley, said yesterday, ``but we're not aware that he indicated he had a bomb.''

On May 26, Joseph Previtera Jr., 21, an international studies major and the son of Westwood Conservation Commission Chairman Joseph Previtera, stood on a crate outside the Military Recruiting Center on Tremont Street in a black hood and sheet. From his outstretched forefingers dangled two wires leading to the box.

``I did this to offer another perspective for those thinking of enlisting in the military and because of the abuses they may be asked to commit,'' Previtera said.

http://news.bostonherald.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=30252
To Boston Herald
04 Jun 2004
To Ms. Sweet,
The protester didn't get a break. He should have never got arrested! Protesting the atrocities of this war, is an excercise all of us show support. Our country should not stand for torture or lies.
Have your editor print this!
Goodbye To U.S.
05 Jun 2004
Right Wing Tatics are outdated. This is not the 60's. When is our great country going to show the world maturity? The young man expressing his First Amendment Rights? Should have never been arrested.
When will the voters say, enough is enough?
Maybe the writer above is right. Time to find another country.
The United States and its politicians are ignoring us. That to me? Is totally unacceptable. I've voted for 30 years. Every person I've voted for has ignored the peoples requests.
Now the politicians are ignoring our 1st Amendment rights.
I don't know about you. I have a bad feeling for the future of this country.
And the future of your children...
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
05 Jun 2004
I can't seem to access the video of the event...anyone have a mirror hosted somewhere?

This really is pretty sick!
COPY JOES STREET THEATER, SUPPORT OUR TROOPS
07 Jun 2004
be like joe. form your own troop. perform in the street. goto palestine.
Re: Arrest, felony charges for protester at Boston military recruiter
21 Nov 2004
Its too bad that this financially secure college student is content with bashing the men and women of our military. Most people in the military dont enjoy the same privelages that this kid probably has. Also i find it disgusting that so many people refer to police officers as "pigs". These people risk there lives every day.
hydroxyzine
04 Jun 2006
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