The Massachusetts Chapter of the NLG opposes City of Boston Funding for BRIC

Dear Boston City Councilors,

The Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) strongly opposes the City of Boston’s funding for the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) and enabling its spying and surveillance practices of citizens engaged in protected First Amendment political activities.

Since its inception in 2005, BRIC has not produced anything significant for the City of Boston in terms of reducing crime or terrorism.  On the contrary, it has actually created terror among local activists and activist organizations and contributed to the withdrawal of many people from political activism because of its unnecessary spying, surveillance, and intimidation of political activists.  It has not been held accountable for its actions or for its spending.  As Congressional investigations have proven, BRIC’s exact budget, as with all other fusion centers’ budgets, is unclear and unaccounted for.

As the documents obtained by the NLG-Mass Chapter under numerous public records requests show, BRIC’s extensive surveillance and spying have led to a creation of SARs (Suspicious Activities Reports) in which constitutionally protected activities have been categorized as “threat of domestic terrorism” and as “domestic threat”, when, in fact, there is no evidence whatsoever that any “terrorist” activities or threats have actually occurred.  According to the documents the NLG has obtained, BRIC routinely shares SARs, with surveillance information about Boston progressive activists, with more than 1,500 law enforcement and private entities – financial institutions, hotels, schools, hospitals, and others in an attempt to threaten and intimidate those activists.  Ironically, in these times of increased threat coming from far-right movements, BRIC’s focus is only on progressive movements.

There is simply no reason to pass any additional funding for BRIC since it already receives thousands in federal UASI grants when it does not serve the needs of the people of Boston. Instead, the City of Boston should begin efforts to stop funding BRIC altogether.  Boston is experiencing a critical housing crisis; hence, rather than wasting money on this unproductive and intimidating police agency, the City should use its funds in a more productive way, to produce positive and highly needed outcomes (like more affordable housing) that would actually benefit the people of Boston.