ACLU Demands Information From Boston Police on Use of Force and Surveillance

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts says it has filed a lawsuit against Boston and its police department demanding information about use of force and surveillance of people in the city

Boston Police Department

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts has filed a lawsuit demanding information from the Boston Police Department regarding use of force and surveillance of civilians.

The ACLU announced Wednesday afternoon that it had taken the legal action against the city and its police department after filing nine public records requests over 17 months, all of which the union says are well past due.

"Transparency is at the heart of accountability," Matthew Segal, ACLU of Massachusetts' legal director, said in a statement. "The public has the right to know what the police are doing in their name and with their tax dollars. Indeed, this information has taken on new urgency in the wake of nationwide protests against police violence and statewide conversations about police reform."

The union accuses police and city officials of "a longstanding pattern of delay that violates the Massachusetts Public Records Law, which generally requires municipalities to produce responsive records within 10 business days of a request."

Specific documents sought by the ACLU in the lawsuit include:

  • Use of force records compiled during June's racial justice demonstrations in Boston, requested that month
  • Records requested in September of 2019 regarding use of force during the controversial "Straight Pride Parade" held in the city that August
  • Information about the Boston Police Department's use of teargas and pepper spray since 2016
  • Details about the locations of surveillance cameras and any potential communications the city or police had with immigration enforcement agencies
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