For years, the Boston Police Department has been monitoring political groups and activities, such as by shooting video at legal, peaceful demonstrations--but has been withholding information from the public about its expanding surveillance operations. The ACLU and other civil rights groups filed suit on August 17, 2011, asking the court to require the police to release records about what they are doing and why.
The organizations and individuals that are plaintiffs in this case have seen Boston police surveillance of their events. They requested their "files" to find out what the department knows about them--and whether or not this information is being shared with the FBI or other government agencies--but were denied. We believe the Boston Police are wrongly withholding these records and that the public has a right to know what is going on.
We brought this suit because we believe the public should know what information is being collected about political activities, how it is being used, and what policies--if any--are in place to protect privacy and individual liberty. We need transparency about the policies that govern those investigations and the work of the police surveillance arm, known as BRIC, the so-called Boston Regional Intelligence Center. When police become agents of surveillance, keeping track of political activities, there is a chilling effect on people’s ability to express their political views in public. Through this lawsuit, the ACLU and our allies are fighting for government transparency, open public debate, and the checks and balances that democracy depends on.
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