Nov 16 2013

Student charged with wiretapping for recording Boston police

Dr. Q

It’s been more than a year since the City of Boston paid out over $200,000 in settlements to people who were falsely arrested and charged with felony wiretapping for video-recording cops, but Boston police still haven’t learned their lesson.

The wiretapping law makes it illegal to secretly record conversations, however, Boston police have arrested a number of people over the years for openly recording and charged them with wiretapping.

Last year, the taxpayers of Boston were forced to pay $170,000 to Simon Glik and $33,000 to Maury Paulino. Both men were arrested — Glik in 2007 and Paulino in 2009 — by Boston police officers for openly video-recording cops making arrests in public.

Last month, Boston police again used the wiretapping law as their excuse for arresting someone who was recording them. This time the victim was a Northeastern student who used his cellphone to record the police during the celebration after the Red Sox won the World Series. Zolan Kanno-Youngs of The Huntington News, a Northeastern student paper, reported the following information about the case:

I was able to catch up with the student charged with wire-tapping, Tyler Welsh, to hear what he did in the confrontation to deserve that charge. He said he and the officer got into an argument after Welsh questioned why he couldn’t go past the barricades the police had set up to contain students near Fenway Park.

“It was like the situation was getting to the point where I thought he wasn’t doing the right thing,” Welsh said. “He was lacking that professionalism and I thought, ‘I’m going to catch this on camera so at least I can go back and have it and be able to see if what he said was okay, was it not okay or was what I was doing okay?”

Welsh described the confrontation with the officer in an all too familiar way for anyone who ever been in the same situation. He described feeling nervous, afraid and losing control of the entire situation. So he put his phone in front of his chest and began to record a video.

It wasn’t the first time the student felt the need to do so.

Two weekends ago, Welsh was outside a party Boston Police shut down in Mission Hill. He encountered five police officers surrounding and pushing one second-year business student, Michael Kerr, and once again felt the need to document the incident.

“I exited the building after asking a cop inside if I could retrieve my jacket, who replied by grabbing me by my collar and yelling at me to leave immediately,” Kerr said. “I asked another officer outside the same, at which point I was surrounded by 5 of them pushing me and calling me a ‘tough guy’ and to ‘stop with all the questions.’”

An October 31 press release from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office confirms that Welsh was arrested for recording the police:

A dozen people arrested in Boston after last night’s World Series win appeared in a Boston courtroom today, with 10 of them being arraigned today on charges related to their alleged conduct, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.

Of the 12 people arrested by Boston, State, and MBTA Transit police, Roxbury District Court Judge Tracy-Lee Lyons dismissed one case for lack of probable cause and continued a second man’s case for arraignment at a later date. Those two men were a 23-year-old Allston man arrested by Transit Police for trespassing into the tunnel leading from the Blandford Street MBTA stop toward Kenmore Square and a 20-year-old Northeastern University student who allegedly refused to follow Boston Police officers’ orders to leave the area of Kenmore Square and recorded the confrontation on his cell phone. (emphasis added)


Nov 16 2013

IWW picketer says he was falsely arrested by Cambridge police

Dr. Q

Open Media Boston reports:

A picket outside Insomnia Cookies in Cambridge resulted in the arrest of a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) union Thursday night.

Jason Freedman was arraigned at Cambridge District Court in Medford Friday morning in a brief hearing by the court’s First Judge, Roanne Sragow.

Charged by Cambridge Police for assault and battery on a police officer, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct, Freedman called the allegations “ridiculous.”

Speaking to Open Media Boston at the court, Freedman said, “we weren’t blocking the sidewalk; we were there to protest terrible conditions and pay at Insomnia,” which he says are the “plight of millions of Americans.”

He was taking part in the picket, one of many since August when workers at Insomnia Cookies in Cambridge went on strike for better pay, improved working conditions, and healthcare; four workers were fired following that initial strike.

Freedman alleges that the police officers on the scene treated the demonstrators as if they were a “nuisance,” describing the officers’ behavior as “very aggressive,” and claims that they were there to “harass” and “detain” protestors, and “break-up” the picket.

He further alleges that the police “were there to make an example” of the demonstrators.

Adamant that he was taking part in the picket peacefully, Freedman says he “wasn’t trying to cause conflict” when he was allegedly targeted by police.

Photos and video captured of the incident show that Freedman was tackled to the ground by several Cambridge Police Officers.

He was arrested and released on bail after being held at a police station near Kendall Sq.

At the court, Freedman had a visible scrape and slight swelling above his right eye, and he complained of a great deal of pain in his left arm, noting that same arm had been broken before.

“I definitely felt punches on my body as they tried to wrestle me to the ground,” Freedman alleges, adding that they were “definitely assaulting me.”

He alleges that “it seemed like they … wanted to punch me, and kick me.”

After he had been arrested, he says he repeatedly said to officers, “please don’t touch my left arm,” because he thought it was broken.

Following multiple requests for medical attention, he was treated by paramedics who determined he had not received a broken arm.

This incident follows the firing of a fifth employee of Insomnia Cookies in Cambridge, Tommy Mendes, allegedly for becoming a member of the IWW.

Read the rest of this article here.


Sep 25 2013

Brookline police arrest man for swearing at them

Dr. Q

Wicked Local reports:

A Jamaica Plain man who was approached by police because he reportedly was falling asleep on a bench, cursed at the officers, and was arrested.

John Leamay, 54, was sleeping on a Harvard Street bench on Saturday, Sept. 21, when he was approached by police. According to the report, the officers stopped to check on Leamay’s wellbeing, but he became increasingly agitated. They asked him for identification and his date of birth. He refused to state his date of birth and began yelling “incoherent” statements, according to the report.

Leamay said, “I spent all day at the hospital,” and “This is going to end up on Facebook,” according to the report.

After he was let go, Leamay allegedly walked down Harvard Street and yelled, “F—— cops, this is bulls—.”

The officers approached him for a second time and Leamay allegedly gave them the middle finger and stated, “Do you guys get a hard on for this s— or something?”

As he attempted to walk away, the officers got a hold of him and attempted to arrest him for disorderly conduct. Leamay allegedly spit on the officers and kicked both of them.

He was placed under arrest and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and two counts of assault and battery on a police officer.

This seems like a pretty clear case of police misconduct. Police cannot arrest someone for swearing. This is a basic freedom of speech issue. Having someone swear at you may be unpleasant, but it’s not something you can arrest someone over.

I will outright state that police who arrest people for swearing are pathetic. Police are supposed to be highly skilled, trained professionals. They should not be resorting to violence over something that retail workers, bank tellers, and anyone else with a customer service-related job have to put up with.

On the other hand, as a purely practical matter, I wouldn’t really recommend swearing at the police. It isn’t likely to do you much good.

I also wouldn’t recommend fighting back against police if they falsely arrest you like this man was accused of doing. I do believe that people have the right to resist unlawful arrests, but it’s considered illegal to resist even unlawful arrests in most states.


Jun 15 2013

Palmer settles suit with man who was arrested for trying to record auction

Dr. Q

The Town of Palmer has agreed to pay a $5,000 settlement to Ian Freeman who was falsely arrested by police last year for trying to record a public auction. Police arrested Freeman at the behest of the town manager who took it upon himself to personally ban cameras at the public building where the auction was taking place despite not having the authority to do so (Source: The Republican).

Details here:

Ian Freeman, the New Hampshire man arrested in October for disorderly conduct for attempting to videotape a public auction, was paid $5,000 by the town of Palmer as part of a settlement, the town manager confirmed Thursday.

Town Manager Charles T. Blanchard said the town opted to pay the $5,000, which represents its insurance deductible, to end the case, and avoid the potential of future civil rights suits filed on behalf of Freeman, 32.

Last month, the remaining charge against Freeman – a municipal ordinance violation for being disorderly before the October auction – was dismissed in Palmer District Court. Back in December, a criminal disorderly conduct charge against Freeman in connection with the case was not prosecuted.

Freeman’s case was taken on by the American Civil Liberties Union. Freeman is a journalist and blogger who runs “Free Talk Live,” a radio show in Keene, N.H.

“The $5,000 settlement, in conjunction with dismissal of all charges, we believe vindicates the First Amendment rights that were at stake in this case,” said William C. Newman, director of the Western Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Blanchard said he does not regret having signs posted at the Town Building that warned visitors not to videotape, as the auction did go off without any problems. The signs have since been removed. They were placed throughout the building on the day of the auction of town-owned properties on the advice of another lawyer, Peter Brown, as there were concerns that supporters of Joseph “Jay” Noone, including Freeman, would disrupt the auction. Noone’s Main Street property in Bondsville was part of the auction

Here’s the video of Freeman getting arrested:

Disclosure: When I lived in New Hampshire, I was acquainted with Freeman. We were never close friends, but we were on good terms.


Jan 9 2012

News Roundup for the New Year

Dr. Q

As I said toward the end of last year, I will now be posting weekly news roundups. Instead of trying to write detailed articles about every police misconduct and police accountability-related story I come across, I will post links on the Massachusetts Cop Block Facebook and Twitter pages and make a weekly post that includes brief summaries of all the stories I found during the past week. Currently, I plan to post a news roundup every Monday.

First, here are a few stories from late last year:

  • The Lowell Sun reports that Vesna Nuon, who was just elected to the Lowell City Council, accepted a $50,000 settlement from the city. Nuon was suing the city over a 2008 incident in which Lowell Police Officer Brian Kinney allegedly arrested him on a bogus “disorderly conduct” charge after he threatened to call Kinney’s supervisor and complain about his unprofessional behavior. As part of the settlement, Kinney must also apologize to Nuon.
  • WGGB-TV reports that Spingfield Police Officer Rafael Nazario has been charged with rape and indecent assault and battery after allegedly raping an 18-year-old woman.
  • The Sun Chronicle reports that cocaine and other drugs have gone missing from the Attleboro Police Department’s evidence room. Police Chief Kyle Heagney said he suspects that a cop is responsible and has launched an investigation. The Boston Herald reports that Heagney wishes he could drug test the officers in his department, but their union contract bars him from doing so.

And here the the first Massachusetts police misconduct and police accountability-related stories of the new year:

  • The Boston Herald reports that state trooper John Bergeron shot a woman while hunting. The state police have described the incident as an accident, but Environmental Police are still investigating.
  • WBZ-TV reports that Charlton police terrified a 5-year-old girl when they sent an officer to collect her overdue library books. Seems like a colossal overreaction, not to mention a waste of police resources. As one person who shared the story with me sarcastically commented, “All other crimes have been solved!”
  • The Boston Herald reports that the FBI has arrested state police officer John M. Analetto on extortion charges. Analetto has been accused of lending an FBI informant money in exchange for a piece of his business and threatening to murder the informant multiple times.
  • Boston.com reports that black box data disclosed by the state police shows Lt. Governor Tim Murray was driving 100 MPH and not wearing his seatbelt when he totaled his taxpayer-funded car during the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. Both Murray and the state police previously said accident was caused by black ice, but the release of the black box data have forced them to revise their story. They both now claim that Murray probably fell asleep at the wheel. Previously, the state police refused to release the black box data to the public even though they are required to by the Massachusetts Public Records Law, however, they finally released the data when Murray asked them to. Murray will be issued a $555 traffic citation.
  • The Cape Cod Times reports that a judge ruled that Sandwich police violated a teen football player’s rights when they interrogated him without offering to record the interrogation.
  • The Enterprise reports that former Brockton police lieutenant Charles Lincoln has been jailed for failing to make alimony payments to his ex-wife. Lincoln, now retired, became infamous when he called out sick more than 100 times in three years so he could work a second job as the head of a county jail and amass a huge pension. Lincoln has collected his $140,000 a year pension at taxpayer expense since 2004.
  • Lastly, a man uploaded a YouTube video a few days ago which apparently depicts Haverhill police searching his home. The man frantically tells the camera that the police have entered his home without cause and assaulted him. At the end of the video, the police notice they are on camera and threaten to arrest the man for recording him. While I can’t confirm the man’s version of events, I will say that police have no right to arrest people for openly recording them. This man may want to consult a lawyer.

Remember, if you have a story or question you’d like to share with Massachusetts Cop Block, drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, or send us a message using our contact page.