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News :: Human Rights : Social Welfare
Rally at Cambridge City Hall: Lafayette 8 and more
25 May 2004
Around 5 pm on May 24th, 2004, protestors gathered outside Cambridge city hall demanding the dropping of all charges against the Lafayette 8. The Lafayette 8 were arrested on April 14th in Lafayette Square, Cambridge while working on a community cleanup process. The site, a now abandoned Shell station, had been seized by the city through eminent domain. Despites promises to convert it into a public park, the site had been left as a wasteland, replete with broken bottles and scrap-metal. At around 5:45 some of the protestors filed into the Cambridge City Council hall to support a resolution for increased civilian oversight of the police sponsored by Council Member Denise Simmons. The first speaker touched on the use of service revolvers in arresting unarmed minors and the defunct Police Review Advisory Board. Although mandated by the City Council, the city manager, Robert Healy, has yet to staff the board. Following several other speeches, the council moved to postpone the resolution.
Around 5 pm this evening, protestors gathered outside Cambridge city hall demanding the dropping of all charges against the Lafayette 8. The rally was co-sponsored by Homes Not Jails Boston, BAAM Boston, the IWW Boston, the Green-Rainbow party, and Boston Anarchist Black Cross. The Lafayette 8 were arrested on April 14th in Lafayette Square, Cambridge while working on a community cleanup process. The site, a now abandoned Shell station, had been seized by the city through eminent domain. Despites promises to convert it into a public park, the site had been left as a wasteland, replete with broken bottles and scrap-metal.

At around 5:45 some of the protestors filed into the Cambridge City Council hall to support a resolution sponsored by Council Member Denise Simmons. The public meeting, which also addressed other issues such as an MDC skating rink and tree cropping, began with three-minute speeches from Cambridge residents. Several people spoke about the resolution. The first speaker touched on the use of service revolvers in arresting unarmed minors and the defunct Police Review Advisory Board. Although mandated by the City Council, the city manager, Robert Healy, has yet to staff the board.

Subsequent speakers reiterated their concerns about the lack of oversight of the Cambridge Police. Also mentioned was an incident involving several high school students who had been approached at gunpoint while sitting in a car listening to music. One speaker talked about the police’s potential violation of a Cambridge City Council resolution against the US Patriot Act by wiretapping the activists.

The resolution itself contained a few orders relating to the arrest of the activists. The first point of the resolution addressed the existence, or lack thereof, of a Police Review Advisory Board. The resolution also addressed the use of service revolvers by plainclothes cops, the US Patriot Act, and public statements made by the city manager. The resolution stated that the comments made by Healy were both infringed upon the rights of the activists to a fair trail, and served to chill dissent within Cambridge and discourage protest of the Democratic National Convention.

After a brief reading and explanation of the resolution by Council Member Simmons, the topic of the discussion turned from the resolution itself to the Police Review Advisory Board. City manager Healy, who was presented, was questioned about why although mandated by the council, he has made no appointments to the board, which has not been able to meet in over two years. He responded that citizens who had a problem with the police could go directly to the police themselves and request an internal investigation.

Vice-Mayor Marjorie Decker gave a long speech in which she elaborated on her opposition, which she admitted as seemingly contradictory, to both the resolution and the patriot act. She claimed that unlike Boston, Cambridge is a “Great place to exercise first amendment rights”, and that the activists who were on a cleanup mission of an abandoned property should be treated no differently than anyone else trespassing.

Following two other subsequent speeches agreeing with Vice-Mayor Decker, one by the mayor, the council moved to postpone the resolution. It will be up for discussion once again at their next meeting in three weeks. The Lafayette Eight are due back in court at 9:00am on May 26th at the Cambridge Courthouse.

The Resolution: http://www.cambridgema.gov/cityClerk/PolicyOrder.cfm?item_id=3382

(This article has been edited by IMC Editor for: line breaks and more descriptive title)

This work is in the public domain.
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