Mass Dissent – Litigation Committee Report

The Litigation Committee of NLG-Mass Chapter September Report

Following the presentation of Drew Friedfertig from the NLG-Buffalo Chapter to the Litigation Committee’s September meeting concerning the Buffalo NLG Chapter’s work in examining police policies and practices to screen out or investigate and discipline police officers who are members of white Nationalist organizations, anti-government militias, sovereign citizen groups, or “domestic terrorist” organizations, the Litigation Committee submitted a public records request to the Boston Police Department and the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) to obtain records regarding recent high-profile threats and violence by white nationalist groups Patriot Front and NSC-131. The Litigation Committee decided to pursue a similar public request from the state police and to send a FOIA request to the FBI’s Boston Field Office.

The Litigation Committee continued to gather records concerning the 2019 Boston anti-Straight Parade Protests and a FOIA request to the FBI Boston Field Office. Doug Smith, David Kelston and Sara Malley met with Boston Police Department’s (BPD’s) Legal Department on September 9, and the Litigation Committee is continuing its pressing for the requested records.

The Litigation Committee received more responsive records to its public records requests to several Massachusetts police departments regarding complaints about police officers covering their name tags or refusing to present their police identification cards upon request, including receiving an initial response with records from the Massachusetts State Police. The New Bedford Police Department also submitted records of several complaints regarding officers’ failures to display name tags and failures to produce police identification cards upon request, following a successful appeal to the Secretary of State’s Office’s Supervisor of Records. A separate successful appeal of Boston’s Police Department’s initial refusal to respond to a public records request about complaints of its officers’ covering name tags or refusing to present identification cards upon request has not yet similarly resulted in submission of requested records, but a meeting with BPD’s legal department is scheduled for October 17th. The Litigation Committee has received many recent reports about police covering name tags from activists and legal observers, and is actively seeking to collect witness statements or complaints.

The Mass. Alliance Against Predatory Lending, or MAAPL, has an urgent need for lawyers to help on individual cases of post-foreclosure homeowners facing eviction. Although the Litigation Committee does not have resources to provide representation, typically on short notice and most often in southeastern, central and western Massachusetts, but it has been discussing what contributions it can make to the struggle. Lawyers, legal workers and organizers are desperately needed now. Anyone who has any ideas on how to address this unmet need or interest in collaborative problem solving can contact Litigation Committee member Doug Smith or Grace Ross at MAAPL.