Oct 23 2011

Boston occupation movement demands police reforms

Dr. Q

This weekend, Boston’s Occupation movement has put its energy into demanding reforms of the Boston Police Department.

On Saturday, demonstrators from Occupy the Hood, a gathering of people from the predominantly black and Latino neighborhood of Roxbury that began Friday, joined together with Occupy Boston to protest against police brutality as part of the National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality.

New England Cable News has some footage of the protest which you can view below:

The Boston Herald also has some coverage of the protest here.

Prior to the protest, a list of specific demands was posted on OccupyBoston.com:

1. The current CO-OP (Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel) must be given subpoena powers and the ability to initiate its own independent investigations.

2. There should also be a true Civilian review board with the same powers as, but independent of, the CO-OP. The CO-OP is primarily made up of criminal justice/law enforcement professionals and appointed by the Mayor. A true Civilian review board would be compromised of a cross section from all walks of life within the communities most affected.

3. We have begun work with State Officials to examine and propose a State Commission on Police Brutality. This commission would work statewide to study, examine and investigate cases of police brutality and misconduct where cities and towns have found themselves either unwilling or unable to adequately address these issues in a just manner. Local DA’s and Police Departments have shown that they cannot police themselves and some level of accountability must be established.

4. The Boston Police Department needs to reflect the diversity of the city in its command staff and other decision making positions. We recognize it is only in standing together, united in our solidarity and in action, that we will overcome police repression and succeed in creating a better world.

What do you think of these ideas for reforms? Let us know in the comment section or send us an email using our contact page. If you have any media (photos, videos, etc.) from the protest that you’d like to share, please do so.

Oct 22 2011

Anonymous hacks Boston police union website

Dr. Q

On Friday, the hacker collective Anonymous announced that it had hacked a number of police websites. Among the targeted sites was the website for the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, a labor union that represents Boston police officers. Anonymous said they chose to hack the BPPA website in retaliation for the mass arrest of 141 people at the Occupy Boston protest last Tuesday.

Here’s how Anonymous described their hack of the BPPA website in their press release:

Our lulzboats also took aim at Boston Police in retaliation for the unprovoked mass arrests and brutality experienced by those at Occupy Boston. We hacked the Boston Police Patrolmens’ Association (www.bppa.org), releasing full names and the cleartext, user-supplied passwords for a thousand members. Many lulz have been had while perusing their emails and facebook accounts, and we are now sharing their passwords for others so they can join in on the mayhem as well. Let this be a warning to BPD and police everywhere: future acts of aggression against our movements will be met with a vengeance so epic and relentless that your children’s children will puke at the sight of swine.

“We are attacking the police because they are the vicious boot boys of the 1% whose role in society is to protect the interests and assets of the rich ruling class. They are not part of the 99%– they are working class traitors who are paid to intimidate, harass, and repress political movements that would possibly stand a threat to the power structure of the 1%,” reads the press release.

You can view the names, usernames, and passwords that Anonymous leaked in this pastebin document.

The Boston Police Department acknowledged the hack on their website yesterday:

It has come to the attention of the Boston Police Department that various websites used by members of the BPD – including the website belonging to the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association – have been hacked into and possibly compromised. In light of this information, the Boston Police Department is requiring all department personnel to secure their login information by resetting their passwords on the BPD network. In the case of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, members are asked to visit the BPPA.org website – www.bppa.org – in order to change their password. Moreover, it is recommended and suggested that members change passwords to all internet and wireless devices so as to ensure the safety and integrity of those sites and programs. Department personnel should know and understand that it is a common tactic for hackers to attain personal information by employing this type of tactic. Any employee of the Boston Police Department whose personal information has been hacked or compromised is asked to contact the Boston Regional Intelligence Center. The BRIC will look into and conduct a full investigation into all reported incidents.  In the interim, due to tightened security on the BPD network, users should know and anticipate that some level of external access could be limited on a temporary basis over the next several days.

What do you think of Anonymous hacking the BPPA website and leaking information? Was it a legitimate response to the arrests at the Occupy Boston protest or was it uncalled for? Let us know using our contact page.

In any case, it will be interesting to see what becomes of this incident. I’ll post an update as soon as more information becomes available.

Update (10/23/2011): The Boston Herald reports that federal law enforcement officers are now investigating the hacking incident. The Herald quotes BPPA President Thomas Nee as saying “I will confirm that it has happened, and there is an active federal and local investigation into it.”

Oct 6 2011

What I saw at Occupy Boston

Dr. Q

Last Sunday, I decided to attend the Occupy Boston protest which I’ve blogged about a couple times in the past. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the protest, here’s how it’s described on OccupyBoston.com:

Occupy Boston is an on-going protest inspired by Occupy Wall Street, which started in New York City on September 17, and is connected to similar demonstrations and occupations taking place around the world. We are raising awareness about the discontent with the American corporate and political systems. We’re inspiring conversation, discussion and debate around topics like corruption, financial inequality, and political immorality.

Occupy Boston is not a single group with a single demand, but we feel our national leaders have let us down too many times, and the government needs to fundamentally change.

One thing that drew me to the protest was the possibility of police brutality and misconduct. There’s been so much brutality and abuse by the NYPD at the Occupy Wall Street protest that it’s difficult to keep track of it all. Luckily, nothing of the sort has happened at Occupy Boston. So far, there have been no arrests at all, let alone police brutality incidents. When I visited the protest on Sunday, the police presence was light and the police didn’t appear to be interacting much with the demonstrators.

Since there was no police activity worth documenting, I decided that I would spend some of my time at the protest taking photos and interviewing people about their reasons for attending. You can watch those interviews below:

I definitely didn’t agree with everything I heard at the protest, but I was still impressed to see so many people gathering together to discuss and advocate ideas that they believe in.

After I talked with some of the protesters, I left Dewey Square for a while to handle some other business and get some food. When I returned to the protest later that evening, I managed to show up just as a march was beginning. I joined in the march, took some more photos, as well as some more video (some of that footage ended up at the beginning of the video embedded above).

After the march, I attended the General Assembly meeting which is one of ways the protesters have coordinated their efforts. Unfortunately, the meeting was pretty long, so I ended up having to leave before it was over. Before I left, I dropped by the Really, Really Free Market tent that protesters had organized and donated a white CopBlock.org t-shirt. (If you happen to see anyone wearing this shirt, I’d appreciate a photo.)

You can check out the photographs I took at the protest via Flickr:

Sep 27 2011

#OccupyBoston General Assembly meeting to be livestreamed

Dr. Q

As I reported yesterday, the first General Assembly for the Occupy Boston movement is scheduled for tonight at 7:30 at the Boston Common gazebo (you can now RSVP on Facebook). I have just learned via Twitter that the meeting will be livestreamed so that people who cannot make it will be able to watch online.

You can either watch the livestream using the embed below or you can follow this link back to the original source.

Since I first reported on the protest, the Boston Police Department contacted planners of the protest via Twitter. “We look forward 2 working w/ u 2 ensure a peaceful event which respects ur right 2 protest & maintains safety,” tweeted a BPD spokesperson. A second tweet encouraged planners to “contact Special Events Sgt. Bill Ridge to coordinate logistics” which at least one planner indicated they would do.

Despite these reassurances, I still encourage anyone taking part in the protest to make sure they know their rights and to document all interactions with the police using video cameras. If you witness any police brutality or misconduct during the demonstration, be sure to let us know. You can email Massachusetts Cop Block using our contact page or you can connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Sep 26 2011

Protesters plan to “Occupy Boston”

Dr. Q

Wall St. protesters marching on Sept. 19
(Source: CBS News)

For more than a week now, protesters in New York City have been staging a demonstration on Wall Street against government and corporate corruption. The protest, which has been dubbed “Occupy Wall Street,” hasn’t been mentioned much by the mainstream media, but numerous videos from the protest have been making the rounds on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Metro reports that an “Occupy Wall Street”-type protest may soon be coming to Boston. Nelson Terry, a 23-year-old who drove to New York to participate in the Wall Street protest, is now trying to organize a similar demonstration in Boston using social media sites.

“Whether it’s a series of marches or occupations, that remains to be seen,” Terry told Metro. “The goal is to change the system and make it a real Democracy. Even if we are getting our asses kicked by the cops we will remain non-violent.”

Planning for the protest is currently taking place on the “Occupy Boston” Facebook page. Planning is also occurring via the @OccupyBeantown, @Occupy_Boston, and @NEFreedomRide Twitter feeds.

According to the Facebook page, the next step for planning the protest “is to organize a general assembly, for all of us to come together and begin this movement.” The “1st Boston General Assembly is this Tuesday, September 27… 7:30pm at Boston Common gazebo,” according to the page.

Arrest at Wall Street protest
(Source: The New York Times)

At the Wall Street protest in New York, the police response has been very heavy-handed. Police have arrested a large number of people, often on what appear to be trumped up charges, and have been extremely brutal (see the coverage at Injustice Everywhere here, here, here, and especially here). I don’t know how the Boston police will respond to the Occupy Boston protest, but I encourage everyone participating to prepare for the worst case scenario.

Make sure you know your rights when dealing with the police. Watching the video 10 Rules for Dealing with Police by Flex Your Rights is a great way to get an understanding of what your rights are during encounters with the police. You can find additional information in the FAQ on FYR’s website.  Also check out a “A Police Misconduct Victim’s Guide” by David Packman of Injustice Everywhere for some advice on what to do if your rights are violated by the police.

If you have a camera, bring it along with any extra batteries and memory cards you have. Try to record all your interactions with the police so that you have evidence if you or anyone else’s rights are violated. If possible, livestream your interactions with the police using a service like Qik so that people can watch the protests online in real time.

Be sure that you do not secretly record the police by, for example, hiding your camera in your pocket. Under the Massachusetts “wiretapping” statute, it’s possible to be convicted of a felony for creating “secret” audio-recordings of others — even the police — however, it’s legal to record others when in public if your camera is in plain sight (see the case of Michael Hyde for more information).  Although it’s legal to record the police, I would encourage protesters to password protect their recording devices if possible just in case the police try to confiscate them and delete the videos.

If you witness any police brutality or misconduct during the demonstration, be sure to let us know. You can email Massachusetts Cop Block using our contact page or you can connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Good luck and stay safe.