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News :: Media
ACLU of Massachusetts Condemns Arrest of Peaceful Protesters on Cambridge Common
15 Jun 2005
CAMBRIDGE, MA - The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts condemns
the arrests today of peaceful protesters by Cambridge police officers during
an event on the Cambridge Common to mark the founding of the United States
Army. The organization also criticized the police for forcing people to
move into a "pen" if they were expressing views critical of U.S. policies.
268Armybday002.jpg
For Immediate Release
Contacts: ACLU of Massachusetts: 617- 482-3170

June 14, 2005
Carol Rose, Executive Director (ext. 313)
John Reinstein, Legal Director (ext. 324)
Sarah Wunsch, Staff Attorney (ext. 323)

ACLU of Massachusetts Condemns Arrest of Peaceful Protesters and
Use of Free Speech "Pen" during Army Display on Cambridge Common

CAMBRIDGE, MA - The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts condemns
the arrests today of peaceful protesters by Cambridge police officers during
an event on the Cambridge Common to mark the founding of the United States
Army. The organization also criticized the police for forcing people to
move into a "pen" if they were expressing views critical of U.S. policies.

According to witnesses, people wishing to leave the pen were forced by
police to leave the Common. Observers said that one man who was simply
holding a sign was made to move and the police also forced photographers
from the area if they looked like protesters.

The ACLU is asking anyone affected by these police actions or who witnessed
them to contact the organization as soon as possible, by phone or at
info (at) aclu-mass.org.

"What a sad irony that on the day we celebrate our flag and the values for
which its stands, the organizers of this event and the Cambridge police have
chosen to disregard the right to dissent, which ought to be one of the most
cherished of those American values," said Carol Rose, executive director of
the ACLU of Massachusetts.

The event, sponsored by the City of Cambridge in cooperation with the U.S.
Department of the Army, was to mark the anniversary of George Washington
taking command of the Continental Army on the Cambridge Common in the summer
of 1775.

Organizers announced in advance that anyone wishing to question the event or
U.S. policy in Iraq would be asked to confine their activities to a small
area at a far corner of the Cambridge Common behind a row of Jersey barriers
in a so-called "free speech area." ACLU attorneys warned city lawyers late
Monday that forcing people into this "pen" because they had signs or
leaflets deemed to constitute protest messages would be unconstitutional and
the city could be held liable to those herded into the zone.

"It is unconstitutional to force people into a protest pen simply because
they wish to express a message that is viewed by some authorities as a
protest of U.S. policy," said John Reinstein, legal director for the ACLU of
Massachusetts. "We are concerned at the government's increasing use of
restrictions on peaceful demonstrations for the purposes of presenting a one
dimensional view of public support for its policies, particularly when the
government achieves this aim by suppression of dissent."

- 30 -

Carol Rose
Executive Director
ACLU of Massachusetts
99 Chauncy Street, Suite 310
Boston, MA 02111
tel: (617) 482-3170
See also:
http://www.aclu-mass.org/
http://bostondirectactionproject.blogspot.com/

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Comments

Re: ACLU of Massachusetts Condemns Arrest of Peaceful Protesters on Cambridge Common
15 Jun 2005
The decisive test over whether the ACLU has a case here is if they fund, bring, and win a lawsuit against the Cambridge Police for their actions. I doubt they will do this.

Further, this Cambridge Police force came into existence and is sustained by legal mechanisms. If the irate minority expressing outrage were worth its salt, they would have had the police exercise prior restraint in accordance with heavily liberal bylaws. None exist. The "books" of Cambridge do not include them.
Re: ACLU of Massachusetts Condemns Arrest of Peaceful Protesters on Cambridge Common
16 Jun 2005
I thought the Cambridge PD showed incredible restraint, especially when dealing with certain demonstrators, like the fat lady with wiener dog. She confronted an African American Officer on a bicycle and what amounted to an assault and yelled a few nasty epitaphs at him, some bordering on being racist. He just laughed at her...
Re: ACLU of Massachusetts Condemns Arrest of Peaceful Protesters on Cambridge Common
17 Jun 2005
Great job to the police officers that handled the situation. It is never easy top deal with uneducated and silly people. It's great that the police only had to arrest seven of these so called peace protesters. Never heard of peace protesters attempting to initiate conflict before? Again, great job and we'll continue to support our country and troops!