Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Amid claims of police abuse, Occupy Boston protesters are arrested for various MA misdemeanors and felonies

You may be looking at today’s news and wondering if we have now returned to the
the 1960’s – 1970’s with regard to the recent activities of a group called
“Occupy Boston”…and several such protests across the country. The latest
activity of the group has led over 100 of the group to be arrested. The
familiar accusations of police brutality and similar assaults are flying.

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino today went on record to defend the arrests,
explaining that, while he agrees with them on the issues they are protesting,
the cannot be allowed to “tie up the city.”

“I understand they have freedom of speech and freedom of expression, but we have
a city to manage,” he said in a telephone interview. “I’m open to suggestions,
but civil disobedience will not be tolerated.”

The early morning arrests of the protesters, who gathered downtown in
recent days to criticize the financial industry and social inequality, began at
about 1:20 a.m..

He said protesters had crossed two lines, first, by marching on the North
Washington Street Bridge and threatening to tie up traffic and, second, by
expanding their campground to a newly renovated area of the Greenway that the
city had asked them to stay off.

Occupy Boston said today in a statement that police had “brutally attacked”
protesters. In turn, Boston Police have brought their own claims of assault
against them.

“Today’s reprehensible attack by the Boston Police Department represents a sad
and disturbing shift away from dialogue and towards violent repression,” the
group said on its website.

Masny-Latos, who was on scene as a legal observer, said no protesters fought
with police. She said police could have employed a technique routinely used at
other protests – police approach a protester, tell them they are violating the
law, and the protester then submits to being taken into custody – and still
achieved their goal of clearing the area.

“They really attacked,” Masny-Latos said of the police. “They used force that
was completely unnecessary. … It was just brutal. I have no idea why they
arrested us with u such force.” Masny-Latos herself was arrested by the police
despite the fact that she3 was wearing clothing indicating that she was simply a
legal observer.

To her shock, Masny-Latos herself was among those arrested. She said Boston
police usually respect the legal observers the guild routinely dispatches to
public protests.

“Four officers grabbed me and dragged me,” she said. “I begged them to stop,
[told them that that] they were hurting me. I have no idea why they arrested us
with such force.”

Police had earlier warned the approximately 1,000 protesters to leave the
Greenway area, where they had settled hours before, and relocate to either Dewey
Square or a small, adjacent strip of the Greenway.

Officials did not want the protesters, who originally settled in Dewey Square
and remained camped out there this morning, to occupy the space across Congress
Street on the Greenway because it recently underwent a renovation project where
expensive improvements were added, according to Elaine Driscoll, police
spokeswoman.

Prior to moving in on the protesters, police had closed all the streets in the
area.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Civil Disobedience

As today went on, various protesters were arraigned and many of their cases were dismissed. Not all though. Some refused to take deals. Others did not get their turn up at arraignment yet and must wait until tomorrow.

“I don’t understand, Sam. Is this still America?”

Yes, this is still America.

“Don’t we have the right to peacefully protest?”

To an extent. There are limits to this free speech. We have discussed in the past the image of yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theatre. Well, there are also private property rights that cannot simply be ignored either. Because the trespassers went to such property where the police had told them they could not go, two things were triggered.

First of all, the protesters were then arguably trespassing on the property. Second, and more important, the officer’s felt their authority being challenged. As we have often discussed, this is something the police do not take lightly. It sets the stage for arrests…as well as more rough treatment possibilities.

Of course, once this cycle starts, along come the allegations of police brutality, resisting arrest, assault and battery on a police officer, etc.

It is to be expected, of course. After all, do you realize how easy it is to be technically guilty of Massachusetts assault and battery?

No?

Check out the Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog tomorrow.

To read the original article upon which this blog is based, please go to
http://www.boston.com/Boston/metrodesk/2011/10/boston-mayor-says-sympathizes-with-protesters-but-they-can-tie-the-city/GFmOU1qwApiGhBNsNSzMIL/index.html

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