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News :: DNC : Human Rights
One Activist's Experience of Being Searched on the T
26 Jul 2004
My experience riding the T and getting searched and questioned about activites in Boston: After walking near the so-called "soft zone" and attempting to leave the area, I headed towards Haymarket station to catch the T. After making it past the turnstile, a cop signaled to me and had me go through my backpack in front of him. Guised as small talk, he proceeded to question me about what I was reading (I had one book on police brutality and another on anarchism), if I was in Boston to see the convention, and where I went to school.
After walking near the so-called "soft zone" and attempting to leave the area, I headed towards Haymarket station to catch the T. I was carrying a backpack with books, a microphone, change of clothing, and various other small things that I thought I might need in case the protests/actions were met with excessive police force (i.e. chemical weapons).

After making it past the turnstile, a cop signaled to me and had me go through my backpack in front of him. I suspect that he quickly saw that I wasn't carrying anything dangerous, but he saw the books and asked me what I was reading.

Guised as small talk, he proceeded to question me about what I was reading (I had one book on police brutality and another on anarchism), if I was in Boston to see the convention, and where I went to school. Considering that there had been an excessive number of police all around the area (I would later see about 7 police officers standing around carrying large assault-style rifles) I was essentially too scared to not answer the questions.

I have since been informed that the National Lawyer's Guild is suing the MBTA because of their search policy.

This work is in the public domain.
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Re: Activist searched on the T
26 Jul 2004
What time and day did this happen? Did you get the name of the officer who illegally searched you?
Re: Activist searched on the T
26 Jul 2004
Yeah, at the moment they're pretty much searching everyone with a bag.
Re: Activist searched on the T
26 Jul 2004
I'm watching CNN. It seems like a lot of the military police have gigantic 50lb backpacks? That would really hinder them if they had to walk around all day, or even break into a run.
Anyway, TV is showing the police with handheld units that let them tap into live images from one of 75 security cameras set up in downtown. They say that if you're not doing anything wrong, you shouldn't worry.
Re: Activist searched on the T
26 Jul 2004
The police have no right to search your bags on public transportation. Just say no. Do a Rosa Parks on their fascist ass.
Re: Activist searched on the T
26 Jul 2004
The National Lawyers Guild was under the impression that the searches would take place before the turnstiles (ie, before you pay to enter the system), I believe. If you refuse to allow the search, they can declare you a tresspasser and require that you leave the premises. I believe the most you can get is a citation/fine, though I wonder if penalties can be increased in a National Security Event.

I plan to print out a copy of the fourth amendment to keep in my bag. Also, you should respectfully note that you are participating in the search over your objection.



JDG
Looking for reasons to complain
26 Jul 2004
I wonder what you all would say if a bomb goes off and it could have been stopped if a cop who is trying to protect the public was ordered to let everyone through.

99% of cops just want to help the public. Let them do it. they don't care that you want to over through the world. they just don't want anyone hurt while it happens.
Re: Activist searched on the T
26 Jul 2004
Hang in there Danny. We're with you.
Re: Activist searched on the T
26 Jul 2004
or what if one of the protesters is actually a dragon? if the police don't stop everyone, that dragon could eat john kerry and spit out his bones. do you want that? do you? DO YOU?
Re: Activist searched on the T
26 Jul 2004
Was anything confiscated?
Re: Activist searched on the T
26 Jul 2004
Hey, Brother Danny P,

Thanks for the first-person account...

I was up in your city yesterday for the anti-DNC rally, and I must say, I was shocked at the level of police repression...

Now, I'm a Black male from New York, (a city with 40,000 cops and a police department which, long before the bombing in 2001, literally wrote the book on Agressive Patroling and unconstitutional searches...mass arrests and police sweeps are a way of life down here, ESPEICALLY in low income Black and Latin neighborhoods like mine) so I know what it is to live in a police state..

But, I was really shocked to see the Military Police of the US Army patrolling your streets (we NEVER had that here, even after 9/11...in part because that happens to be a violation of federal law, the Posse Comitatus Act of 1871..we had, and still have, soldiers guarding train stations and public buildings, but they were NOT Military Police empowered to arrest),

and those RoboCop-looking state police guys covered head-to-toe in black kevlar suits of armor,

and those snipers on top of your state house and your other hirise buildings,

and those nervous state troopers with submachine guns guarding the fancy restaurants and luxury hotels near South Station,

and those state police officers with these huge high powered rifles with teloscopic sights standing in the Amtrak station,

I've never seen so many gun toting officers in my life....and I've been to a lot of demonstrations and even a few straight up riots over the years...

And that was yesterday, before they put a "Hard Zone" around the Fleet Center and a "Soft Zone" around most of your downtown (who the hell thought of those bizarre sadomasochistic sounding names? You might have some pervert serial rapist types in charge down at the Massachussetts State Police)

I hope they don't kill anybody...and judging by how jumpy some of those state troopers with the submachine guns looked, they might just do that (especially if somebody my color or darker looked "suspicious" to them)

In any event, I sympathise with what your going through..and, speaking as one resident of a police state city to another (and speaking as somebody who's lived under police state conditions for a bit longer than you have) I urge you, when you're one on one, or they outnumber you DON'T TRY AND BE A HERO...if you resist, they will beat you..if they outnumber you, they might just take you to the stationhouse and "break you down" (that's what officers here call it when they physically abuse you in the precinct)..


But, if you have a bunch of people, by all means JUST SAY NO TO UNCONSTITUTIONAL SEARCHES....and the more of you all that resist the better....

Because, remember, they can't arrest us all....

FRATERNALLY,
GREGORY A. BUTLER, LOCAL 608 CARPENTER
FOR GANGBOX: CONSTRUCTION WORKERS NEWS SERVICE
http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/gangbox/
http://www.geocities.com/gangbox/
"UNION NOW, UNION FOREVER"
Re: Activist searched on the T
26 Jul 2004
I was on the T earlier today when a cop got carrying some sort of Extremely Large Gun. I'm sorry, but being in the presence of such large weaponry did not make me feel safer. Quite the opposite. I don't care how well trained he is with the bloody thing. Accidents happen.
Re: One Activist's Experience of Being Searched on the T
26 Jul 2004
For those who think searches are necessary, those who give up freedom in the name of security will have neither. More people will die in any given year from cancer then from terrorism. Even if there is an attack on Boston, more people will die there in the next week from natural diseases then terrorists, so put the risk in perspective. Why aren't we giving cancer research billions to fight their war? Idiots, I can't stand their flawed logic.
Re: One Activist's Experience of Being Searched on the T
26 Jul 2004
does anyone honestly beleve that terrorists are targeting the DNC? i find it extremely hard to beleive, myself.
Re: One Activist's Experience of Being Searched on the T
26 Jul 2004
You have to realize that the FBI considers anyone who doesn't like Bush to be a potential terrorist. Those who don't like the Democrats because they are so excrutiatingly close to the Republicans in policy are even worse, of course, because they have rejected the pre-packaged answers.

On a conspiratorial note, I think they are worried that the anti-"globalization" movement (which I think the bosses were starting to become really afraid of, since the numbers attending just went up and up after Seattle) will regain steam as we pull away from the collective, 9-11, "we're all running around like chickens w/o heads" insanity. They're scared of successors to the "Billionaires for Bush or Gore" campaign, particularly those which get mainstream coverage in 2000.

After all, the conditions, knowledge, and information which gave rise to the anti-"globalization" movement haven't suddenly become false just because people on TV repeat "post-9/11 era" 90-gazillion times. That's why there were/are "terror threats" for the FTAA, G8, DNC, and RNC conventions -- exactly the places the anti-"globalization" movement would naturally protest (did protest pre-9/11).

That's the conspiracy-theory answer. The more benign answer is that these guys are crazy, and think that disagreeing with them and being willing to actually get off your ass about it is "terrorism." Though perhaps it's a combo platter, some do it cynically for the conspiratorial reasons, others prefer to cover their anti-democratic trains of thought with shrieks of "terrorist!"
Re: One Activist's Experience of Being Searched on the T
26 Jul 2004
I think back to the protesters at 2000. The way they were shot with rubber bullets and hit with batons from horse back. Will we see a repeat of this during this political season? My bet is unfortunatly yes! The feeling of security in our civil rights is a thing of the past untill we have some court cases that re-establish the lines we operate between. Who is gonna be the ginniepig? God bless you american protester, you are the line drawn on the street
Re: One Activist's Experience of Being Searched on the T
27 Jul 2004
The thing that bugs me about your post is that you seem surprised to have been searched. It's been in the news for weeks here that the T was going to search any bag that anyone brought aboard the T this week. Not to say that's good, because it sucks of course! But why were you surprised? If you didn't have time to keep up with the local papers, at least check in on the black tea site which summarizes stuff pretty well. You should have known you would have been searched and might have at least reconsidered carrying stuff that identified you as an anarchist. Of course it's outrageous that you were searched and that I, your comrade, should have to warn you against carrying anarchist literature. If you had made a point of riding the T with that stuff, knowing you were going to be searched, to prove some kind of point, that would be one thing. But to be surprised with a search is not so good. There are bikes for you to borrow this week so you don't have to ride the T. (Ableist assumptions aside.)
Re: One Activist's Experience of Being Searched on the T
27 Jul 2004
One comrade made the main point above:
If you're alone, don't be a hero -- but point is, NO ONE should ever be going to these demos alone anymore! People should travel, from wherever they're from, in SQUADS. They should sleep together, work together, march together -- and face down the goons together. And then go home together.
Which means BEING ORGANIZED.
Power in NUMBERS.
Enough of this unorganized "feel-good" individualistic shit.
The pigs have power BECAUSE THEY WORK TOGETHER. Their power is as nothing compared to our collective power -- if we just ORGANIZE.
Re: One Activist's Experience of Being Searched on the T
27 Jul 2004
Dear Activist,

Thank you for your bravery in posting your account. It helps all of us to be better prepared. We are in a form of dictatorship. It can help to learn to lie, especially if it makes you laugh inside. Like' Convention? No, I don't wanna go to any convention. I'm just going to my job at the flower store' or something like that. We don't need to give them any more clues than they already have. This helped many survive the dictatorships in South America and it can be a very funny way to have the last laugh!
Re: One Activist's Experience of Being Searched on the T
27 Jul 2004
Danny,
As disturbing as your experience and posting are to me, I was pleased to see that someone else thought the police state atmosphere in Boston was appalling. I agree with you. Even in NYC I have never seen such a dereliction of duty as what is going on here. I have to say that although you probably made the right decision I would have been hard pressed to let anyone search me withour reason. They tried to pull that crap on me when I was parking my car in the garage. I told them that they would not be searching my car.
What you need to keep in mind is that this is all theater designed to intimidate and produce fear. Fear is the only currency these animals trade in and when you cease to be afraid of them, you win and they lose regardless of their actions.
And to Kelly, I'd be happy to fly you one way, first class at my expense to Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo. I'm sure you would feel safe from the evil terrorists once you are ensconced in these luxurious facilities, safe with the knowledge that you and your fellow residents have been thoroughly searched.
Advair
27 May 2006
Greetings!..
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