The MBTA is, once again, taking the liberty of saving us from ourselves. Three weeks ago, T police began searching passengers for…anything suspicious. According to the policy, drafted in 2005 (which, notably, was not instituted until now—only a matter of weeks before a very contentious gubernatorial race comes to pass), the searches are designed to “prevent potential attacks while honoring the spirit and the letter of the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”
Having stated such intent in its introductory paragraph, one might think that the policy was created with some respect for the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (which addresses privacy rights) in mind. One would be very wrong, however: Nowhere in this policy is it stated that MBTA police are prohibited from either reading or inspecting any printed or written materials you may have with you, demanding personal information to prove your identity or citizenship status, or arresting you for carrying personal items other than explosives.
I note the latter because a recent ruling in the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals (whose jurisdiction includes New York City), in short, allowed that police could search for explosives in the New York City transit system. New York City’s search policy was based on Boston’s search policy, which was originally conceived prior to the Democratic National Convention in 2004. New York’s policy, however, is quite narrow in its scope. Boston’s current policy (the content of which the public has no access, incidentally) is not narrow. For instance, if a scanning machine is not available to the T police in these searches, then trained dogs will be used. If neither scanning machines nor trained dogs are available, then the T police may detain you and search through your belongings. You do, of course, have the right to refuse a search, but then you must leave the station (or exit the train at the next stop, if the search is conducted on the train itself). Also, some T police have also been trained in what have been termed “behavioral assessment techniques”—also known as profiling. What kind of behavior they are the looking for? This is a very good question, but no answer is really forthcoming. They are on the lookout for “suspicious” behavior.
As with most issues of import in our society, this is by no means a cut-and-dry affair. There is much debate, even among those in Boston who do not support infringements upon our civil rights (including strongly leftist civil rights lawyers), concerning the pros and cons of random searches when there is no imminent threat. I will not discuss the finer points here—both because I am not an attorney and because this post is meant to be somewhat brief—but the current response is to educate the public about their rights in this oft-celebrated democracy. Thus begins my current involvement with this issue.
The National Lawyers Guild is a progressive collective of activist attorneys, law students, and interested others (myself included). The Guild is most well known for representing individuals stained by the Red Scare. They are quick to respond when threats to civil liberties arise. We are challenging the policy because of the great potential for both abuse of power toward and oppression of already marginalized peoples in the United States. This political action begins this Wednesday, October 25, 2006, and continues (during business days only) through Tuesday, October 31, 2006, from both 6:30a to 9:00a and 4:30p to 7:00p—the heaviest travel periods on the T.
If threats to civil liberties issues resonate with you, then I highly encourage you to participate in this education project. I speak as a queer man who does not think that oppression begins and ends at the wedding chapel, and as one of many who participated as a foot soldier, passing out flyers and “I DO NOT CONSENT TO A SEARCH” buttons, two years ago. This also serves as a great opportunity both to meet more of your fellow humans and to talk to some of them about their concerns, hopes, and fears. As with all volunteer work of this kind, it can be a bit heartbreaking to realize that many people turn a blind eye to, or ever scorn, the civil liberties-informed side of T searches. However, the beacons of hope do peek out from the murk periodically. The point of such work, in my estimation, is to illuminate rather than to indoctrinate. We are targeting T stations that see larger populations of non-White and/or lower income passengers—those who are more at risk for profiling and detainment for no other reason than their appearance, etc.
We are in great need of volunteers. More information, including locations, dates, and times, may be obtained by sending an email to email@example.com.
D. Michael Coy, who is currently coordinating the MBTA Education Project for the National Lawyers Guild, has been a queer activist in both Chicago and Boston. He is currently in the process of obtaining his social work licensure and resides in Arlington, Massachusetts.
Liberty Sunday event held today, and attended by Mitt Romney, at the Tremont Temple. Click Here to Read the Entire Report... Summary of Findings:
Photo: Tony Perkins at a meeting for the Council of Conservative Citizens - found in their newsletter the Citizens Informer - Vol. 28 Summer 1997, page 7.
Carlo and Brian of QueerToday.com have drafted an article exposing the racism of the leaders of the
1. Dr. Gerald Schoenewolf, Scientific Advisory Board member for the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuals (NARTH) made racist comments in a recent paper posted to the NARTH website. This paper was taken down due to outcry from the Southern Poverty Law Center as well as other groups. Joseph Nicolosi, President of NARTH was featured at the Love Won Out, anti-gay conference at Tremont Temple.
2. In 1996, Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, and featured Liberty Sunday speaker was implicated in a cover-up involving the purchase of a mailing list from former Imperial Wizard of the KKK and neo-Nazi sympathizer David Duke.
3. Perkins also spoke *twice *in front of the white supremacist Council of ConservativeCitizens (CCC), once in 1997 and once in 2001.
3a. Perkins spoke in front of the CCC a second time--well after a 1998 scandal involving Sen. Trent Lott and Rep. Bob Barr, who were publicly chastised for speaking in front of the CCC, and In 1997, he spoke in front of a Confederate flag specially designed to represent white supremacy (see pic above)
4. Both in regards to Duke's mailing list, and his speaking engagements for the CCC, we believe the evidence shows that Perkins is either one of the most ignorant and unobservant people on earth, or he knew what he was doing when he made these connections with white supremacists.
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Bullet Points Flyer (PDF)
Liberty Sunday event held today, and attended by Mitt Romney, at the Tremont Temple. Click Here to Read the Entire Report...
Summary of Findings:
"...one of the more provocative displays by Liberty Sunday protesters was a banner held by members of QueerToday.com featuring a photo of Family Research Council president Tony Perkins in 1997, when he was still a Louisiana state representative. The photo shows Perkins addressing a meeting of the Louisiana Council of Conservative Citizens (CC of C), a white supremacist group..." - BayWindows
Liberty Sunday Response: Video Montage by Beth Long
More Coverage of Liberty Sunday:
- New! Bay Windows Complete Coverage featuring QueerToday.com
- InNews Weekly Article featuring QueerToday.com's Brian Rainey
- National Black Justice Coalition Response to Liberty Sunday
- TakeMassAction Blog
- People for the American Way
- "The Cast" See Also: Mitt vs. Mass
- Margery Eagan, Boston Herald, Blasts Romney mentions racism
- Associated Press
- Boston Globe
- NECN (VIDEO)
"Another speaker took issue with a conservative religious view of liberty in the Bible having much, if anything, to do with sex. 'Liberty, in my Christian tradition, real liberty is concrete," said Cambridge resident Brian Rainey of QueerToday.com, a full-spectrum GLBT advocacy organization. "Liberty is tied to poverty and the liberation of disenfranchised people," he added. "When someone violently rips [liberty] out of its theological context, using it to support a political agenda which has nothing to do with [the interests of the poor and dispossessed], we should stand up and say something.' " - InNews Weekly
“The Family Research Council is actively trying to align itself with black communities and black churches, and we think it’s important that these churches understand that Tony Perkins does have ties with white supremacy … I’m not exactly sure that these are the types of groups or people that black churches and the black community want to associate with,” said Carlo Baca, a QueerToday.com activist holding the banner. - BayWindows
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"... since Patrick is not really addressing racism and Healey, not sexism and none of them economic divide issues - there is lots to cover..."
On Immigration: " Patrick just waffles… like on many things...."
"If everyone who had ever worked for something important had waited to be told they could win, we would still have slavery, no public education, most of us still would not have the vote, not worker protections or social security, and we'd still be subjects of England I think"
On public transportation and the big dig: "Common sense - the state had a contract, they were suppose to deliver a bill of goods - they did not. and then the other candidates talk about running the state like a business - which business - Enron? Wal-Mart?"
Read the entire interview here>
Read about Grace's Inspiring Runningmate here>
From the Boston Herald:
"Grace Ross gave an extensive interview recently with gay/lesbian Web site QueerToday.com, during which she spoke about a plan to legalize and tax drugs and her battle with a South End publication that doesn’t consider her “out” enough. Ross has butted heads with editors at the gay weekly Bay Windows who have criticized her for not playing up the fact that she is the first openly lesbian candidate for governor. In the QueerToday interview, Ross shot back that the newspaper hasn’t endorsed her and criticized the gay/lesbian/bi-sexual/transgendered media as a whole for lax coverage. “How out I am is partly up to the GLBT media,” Ross said. “If they want me out it is a significant percentage in their hands.” Ross also revealed a list of her “heroes,” who included lesbian poet Audre Lorde, feminist Barbara Deming, Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nat Han, Tiananmen Square protester Chai Ling and . . . Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner. Turner once released porn pictures to the media that he falsely claimed were evidence of rapes of Iraqis by American soldiers. "