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News :: Politics
Aimée Smith Found Not-Guilty in False Arrest By MIT Police
15 Jan 2005
Friday, January 14, 2005

Cambridge, Massachusetts—On Thursday, January 13 a judge at the Middlesex County Courthouse found Dr. Aimée Smith “not guilty” of charges by MIT police of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. The arrest stemmed from an incident on August 25, 2004 in which MIT police officer Joseph D’Amelio arrested Dr. Smith for questioning him about his arresting her in June for passing out leaflets on a public sidewalk on Memorial Drive. Charges for the earlier arrest were dropped by MIT. Charges for the second arrest were not dropped, leaving MIT the embarrassment of backing up an officer who thought he was within his rights to arrest, handcuff, and take someone to jail simply because he didn’t like what that person was saying. Ironically, in their second meeting, Dr. Smith was questioning Officer D”Amelio about whether he understood the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. Officer D'Amelio was backed in court up by two other MIT police, who agreed on a fabrication that Dr. Smith was “shouting and screaming” and “flailing her arms” outside the MIT Student Center last August.

The specific charge of disorderly conduct, which MIT police claimed was a “safety” issue, was not proven, leaving moot the charge of resisting arrest. Dr. Smith’s attorney, Mr. Daniel Beck, called it “a dream case for a defense attorney” because no evidence was actually presented to back up the charges. Attorney Beck did little more during the trial than make brief responses to the prosecutor’s spinning of an empty case, and then ask for it to be thrown out. To the apparent confusion of the MIT police, the judge did just this.

Nearly thirty supporters from the MIT academic community and activists and friends from the Boston area filled the courtroom. According to Noah Cohen, who works with Dr. Smith in the New England Committee to Defend Palestine, “winning this case means that MIT has failed in this attempt to silence dissent on campus." Other supporters of Dr. Smith were in agreement that she was targeted by MIT police because she is well known on campus as an outspoken activist for social justice.

Read the earlier announcement of this trial at:

See The Bridge, a Cambridge newspaper, for an article on the background of this case at:

This work is in the public domain
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Re: Aimée Smith Found Not-Guilty in False Arrest By MIT Police
15 Jan 2005
On the morning of Saturday, January 15th, 2005 at
approximately 1:40 AM, a Cambridge police officer (Badge #409} pulled over a car in which I was a passenger.

The officer proceeded to the front of our vehicle and, as he approached, screamed to the passenger in the front passenger seat "Hey ... what are you doing! What are you digging for!" and drew his gun from the holster. The driver told him imediately "He's getting the registration! Are you going to shoot me for getting the registration?!"

The officer replaced the gun in the holster, then
proceeded to explain that he had pulled us over
because "There's been an armed robbery reported. Four people. I pulled you over because you have four people in the car." He then ducked his head, glanced in the car and pronounced that "Okay. You don't fit the description. You're free to go."

As he walked away from the window and the shock of the absurdity of the statement that we were being stopped for something so stupid wore off, a passenger asked incredulously, "Wait. You stopped us because we have four people in the car? Ae you serious?" The officer responded threateningly, so the passenger requested to have his badge number.

As soon as the request was made, the officer went into a rage, immediately called for another car to come and told the passengers of the stopped car, "Okay. If you want to make this hard, we'll make this hard." - clearly signalling that contrary to his earlier assertion that we were free to go, that we were now being detained for the mere act of asking for his badge number.

He then asked for identification (never at any time
did he provide his own badge number during this
exchange, we only were able to get his own badge
number from the ticket despite repeated requests) and - after being told only moments ago that they were "free to go" the passengers refused to provide identification as they had done absolutely nothing wrong and were being harrassed merely for asking for the badge number of the officer.

The officer then pulled every person except the driver out of the car and searched them, claimed that "If you don't have ID, then we'll take you down to the station and take your fingerprints and we'll keep you in jail until we figure out who you are." When the passengers still refused to provide identification, he then announced that "if you don't give me your ID, then she [referring to the driver] will be getting a citation". The other officers who had arrived by this point looked at #409 in obvious confusion and the officer explained himself as "failure to ID at night". The passengers replied that there was, of course, no such
law and the officer repeated "You wanted to make this hard, we'll make it hard."

True to his word, the officer returned to the car
after a waiting period of approximately 15 minutes - During the searches of the pasengers, he had
improperly and illegally stolen the identification of
the passengers from within their respective wallets, and made a show of "running" them to see if we had warrants. We of course did not. - and handed the driver a ticket for a broken left tail-light and two more citations for "refusing to ID at night.

As is obvious from the very beginning of this
altercation and his drawing his gun to his absurd
reason for stopping us "you have four people" to his telling us we were "free to go" only to then start dragging passengers out of the vehicle when asked for his own badge number, this officer was obvious not fit for duty on this morning. The citations on the ticket he presented to the driver, however, were ever more peculiar.

Defective Tail-light. Citation: 90/7. The left
tail-light was not broken, obviously, and he did not
even mention the tail-light while stopping us and then telling us we were "free to go".

Refusing to ID at night. Citation: 90/11. There were three passengers, but he only charged two passengers with "refusing to produce ID at night". There are only three lines on the tickets of this type, so adding the third erroneous ID charge would have forced him to write on another piece of paper all the same information. The officer was not only abusive of power and physically threatening with both his body language and his gun itself, but was also evidently too lazy to fill out another form with what he knew to be complete fabrications. As a matter of note - for those of you who may not be clear on this, 90/11 is the statue requiring DRIVERS to ID, not passengers. Passengers
are not, of course, required to provide a driver's
license because .... THEY'RE NOT DRIVING! The
laughable "at night" addendum is as irrelevant as it
is pathetic. Either the officer does not know the law - and therefore should not be on the streets in "law enforcement" or, as I actually suspect, was knowingly fabricating laws to harrass us for asking for his badge number and should not be on the streets as a "bully with a badge".
Re: Aimée Smith Found Not-Guilty in False Arrest By MIT Police
15 Jan 2005
Oh, I forgot to mention ..... we were on the way home from a small party that was in part celebratory of Aimee Smith's victory. Irony muchly.