Encourage People To Contact the Boston Police Department's Bureau of Public Information? That's A Jailin'.

Print This Post

You may also like...

77 Responses

  1. Peter H says:

    Carlos Miller can be a bit ascerbic, but did the BPD not do any research on him at all before filing this? Like, 10 minutes reading his blog? Maybe look at the case where he went to a jury in Miami and was found not guilty? This is so perfectly designed to blow up in their face I am amazed that it can be real. Terrified a bit too.

  2. Christopher says:

    This IS the same police department that thought LED signs of the Mooninites from Aqua Teen Hunger Force were IEDs. It's not exactly a focal point of high intelligence over there.

  3. Clark says:

    [ cops ] are very often full of shit

    Between you and that Clark asshole, I'm thinking that Popehat isn't really cop friendly.

  4. StephenH says:

    Nevermind the Streisand Effect, don't reporters consider warrants and jail time to be a badge of honor? Threatening one with such seems like the height of both hubris and naivete.

  5. tsrblke says:

    Uhhh…..

    So according to Boston PD, we can no "petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    IANAL, but it seems remarkably clear that this is what is happening here. Like so clear, it's not even up for grabs. Unless, in my non-lawyer, non-cop ignorance, I am totally missing here.

  6. Clark says:

    @tsrblke

    So according to Boston PD, we can no "petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    Time and place.

    "Citizen, the 'free speech zone' is that way…no, keep going…keep going…just another 500 miles…"

  7. tsrblke says:

    @Clark,

    You may only contact our public information office from 1-1:05, and must limit your comments to 20 words.

  8. Grifter says:

    Dammit Clark, now I have The Proclaimers stuck in my head…

  9. jdgalt says:

    This kind of threat works because (1) even if anyone they arrest for calling them is going to be found innocent, it is still going to cost that victim time, money, reputation, and quite likely his job; and (2) there is no cost to the police, as a department or individually, beyond what they get paid while they're doing it (they appear to be immune to all false-arrest, false-imprisonment, and coercion/extortion laws, and even if a civil rights case can be made, they own the prosecutor's office).

    I'm thinking this incident would be a good subject for a petition on some site like change.org. But I've got better sense than to phone the bad guys.

  10. Dave says:

    You may only contact our public information office from 1-1:05, and must limit your comments to 20 words.

    Sounds like office hours for professors when I was in college. Say . . . Boston is a college town innit?

  11. Pablo says:

    @Christopher This is also the same police department that thought the entire city needed to shut down and cower in fear while they abolished the 4th Amendment because there was a wounded teenager on the loose.

  12. Peter H says:

    jdgalt,

    Your points are why I am so gobsmacked that the BPD was dumb enough to pull this on Carlos Miller. Miller has made fighting police overreach into his day job. His reputation as someone fighting for justice is enhanced by this case, not diminished. And he will absolutely (and correctly) treat the charges as a moral crusade, and not be intimidated into shutting up or taking a plea.

    Also, he will almost surely sue the BPD, and win.

  13. NAC says:

    > You may only contact our public information office from 1-1:05, and must limit your comments to 20 words.

    Yes, but *which* 20 words?

  14. Jonathan says:

    @Peter H,

    Also, he will almost surely sue the BPD, and win.

    Oh, please, let him sue and win. Every loss for the police is a win for the common good.

  15. Ranulfo says:

    "Between you and that Clark asshole, I'm thinking that Popehat isn't really cop friendly."

    Clearly they have problems with authority and a chip on their shoulders. Possibly they even have parole officers. I'd be very suspicious of them, they could be criminals and thus have no credibility.

  16. Dion starfire says:

    "What do you do when your local cops become the problem?" I actually asked that question in another forum* and, surprisingly, got a realistic and accurate answer: go to the next larger jurisdiction. IOW, when city cops are the problem, talk to the county sheriffs, when the county becomes a problem, talk to the state patrol. If the state patrol is the problem, start a revolution.

  17. Dan says:

    Wow, that's incredible. I went ahead and called the number Carlos posted. It rang for a minute or two before someone picked up. I told whoever it was that going after a blogger for contacting the Public Information department is really low. She cut me off and told me I had to put my comments in writing, and that I could not comment by phone, and then she hung up on me. Coward.

  18. Brooks says:

    My supervisors and the District Attorney’s office are aware of this request but I assure you that the conversation will just be me and you, not recorded, and again, Im not trying trap you into anything incriminating.

    Det. Moore is not only a thug, but a thug who doesn't get it. In his world, an assurance that a conversation will not be recorded is always a good thing, and should induce compliance. Bizarre.

  19. Xoshe says:

    Forgive me for playing devil's advocate here for a moment, but I'm hoping something could be clarified for me.

    I've been a denizen of the internet for many years now, and one of the things I've consistently discovered is that the anonymity will often bring out the worst of people when it comes to things they are passionate about.

    While what is described is certainly a clear-cut case of government petitioning, if the people doing the petitioning are abusive or harassing (from simple vulgar language to constant calls making the phone line unusable for any other purpose), is that actionable? Could there be an action against Carlos for people causing harassing communications, even if his call to action was for peaceful petitioning?

    I guess it would be similar to "Is the organizer of a rally liable if the rally becomes a riot through no action of their own". If I asked a group of people to write letters to their congressman, but some members of that group were inclined to violence and thus wrote threats instead, is that my fault or is it the author's. I'm inclined to believe that it's the author's liability, but many stories on this site cause me to question that belief…

  20. Rich says:

    How is it they can charge when he clearly wrote maybe? The police use verbal judo constantly to trick people into consent. I need to see your id, A request not an order. How can saying "maybe we should"be interpreted by the same courts as a order? He asked a question he did not make a request. Why am I legally wrong about this?

  21. jackn2 says:

    I know we can reach nick moore of Boston at 617-343-6681, but is there an email address?

  22. Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Ah Boston, that cradle of liberty…

  23. Clark says:

    @Dan

    [ the cop is a] Coward.

    Why do you want the terrorists to win?

  24. melK says:

    Every loss for the police is a win for the common good.

    Would that they were able to learn without someone having to take a two-by-four to their head. Or the lawyerly equivalent thereof.

  25. Mr A says:

    Cops are not looking out for your best interests. Cops are looking to put someone in jail.

    Ken, I'd say that I'm looking forward to Patterico showing up to call you an extremist, asserting there's no point in engaging you in argument, and acting all butthurt… but that would be "churlish", so I won't.

    Whoops.

  26. Clark says:

    @MrA

    Whoops.

    LOL!

  27. NI says:

    You know, for being the cradle of American liberty, Massachusetts is really pretty awful on free speech stuff. It's illegal in Massachusetts to picket at a courthouse too.

    Two things should happen here. First, every blogger in the world should declare today to be "everybody publish Richardson and Moore contact information day." Second, the Boston City Council needs to act like an oversight body and conduct an investigation. Since they control the police budget, if I were Richardson or Moore I would certainly pay attention to that.

  28. ZarroTsu says:

    Would that they were able to learn without someone having to take a two-by-four to their head. Or the lawyerly equivalent thereof.

    A section-two-by-subsection-four?

  29. Clark says:

    @NI

    the Boston City Council needs to act like an oversight body and conduct an investigation [ of the Boston Police ]

    You seem to be confused about who gives the "jump!" command and who it is that jumps.

  30. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    We really, desperately, need to add two criminal charges to the justice system, just for police organizations like this one;

    Ostentatious Stupidity

    and

    Contempt of Public

  31. bill says:

    @Peter H

    This is so perfectly designed to blow up in their face I am amazed that it can be real. Terrified a bit too.

    Just to add to it, Marc Randazza is a proud self-described Masshole, but there's little doubt where he'll fall on this issue. I might be getting ahead of myself, but getting Randazza pissed off is about the dumbest thing they could do right now, and that's very likely about to happen.

  32. Sigmadog says:

    My daughter went to law school in Boston. It's not for nothing that she now refers to them as Massholes.

    She introduced me to that term. I like it almost as much as "butthurt" and "snort my taint".

    Carthago delenda est

  33. Dan Weber says:

    if the people doing the petitioning are abusive or harassing (from simple vulgar language to constant calls making the phone line unusable for any other purpose), is that actionable?

    On the individuals, yes.

    I think there's a good debate on just how much Miller could advocate a phone-bomb campaign. (Mail-bomb campaigns are fine because all the letters show up and you can't really send someone enough mail to block incoming requests. PS: I obviously mean "mail-bomb" as "sending a shitload of mail.") He thinks that phone-flood campaigns are useful and defensible.

    I'm not sure I agree with him on that, but it's definitely not "witness tampering," words designed to intimidate much more than anything Miller did, as Ken said.

  34. Sean C says:

    In addition to the constitutional issues, is there anything like the attractive nuisance doctrine which would apply because BPD is charging citizens for communicating about BPD policy using the phone number they advertise for that purpose?

    Carlos is in Florida. Is there a reasonable change of venue argument to be made for moving the case to a court in Florida?
    Can Carlos reasonably sue BPD in a Florida court since his constitutional rights were abridged there?

  35. Josh M. says:

    @Sigmadog

    I grew up in northern Connecticut. "Massholes" enters your vocabulary up there as soon as you learn to drive. I *dread* getting stuck behind someone with a Massachusetts plate.

    Although, they're still not as bad as New Jersey or New York drivers. *shudder*

  36. tsrblke says:

    @Dan Weber,

    I'm not sure I agree.
    A few people calling repeatedly, sure that might be harassment and thus wrong (from a moral standpoint, I make no legal claims here.)
    However, getting a large pool of people to call once is not the same thing. Even if it clogs the phone lines, each of those people has a right to " petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    Should it cause disruption for the BPD is only a sign of how many people are upset. They are more than free to do some phone line switching.

    If we set the bar at "disruption" how soon before they say "no you cannot schedule meetings with our officers, it takes too long."

  37. Peter H says:

    @Dan Weber

    I would say the phone campaign is perfectly lawful even if it blocks up their phone line. It is comparable to any other circumstance where access is one-at-a-time, and protest is lawful in those contexts. E.g. many times public meetings are overtaken by thousands of protesters each making a statement in the allotted time, resulting in meetings of boards running to like 3 am. Some people who would like to comment are shut out by having to wait til 3 am, but that does not mean that the protesting commentators broke a law. Likewise, there was a silly protest suggested to flood the beltway with trucks to snarl traffic. As long as the trucks comply with traffic laws, causing massive delays by their mere presence is not unlawful.

    A protest is allowed to inconvenience the target of the protest, as long as it doesn't violate some other law. Legal things don't become illegal just because suddenly a lot more people want to do them. If it is legal for any one person to call the number, then it legal for a thousand people to call the number. Just because the BPD is understaffed or under-equipped to handle lawful requests does not make the requests unlawful.

  38. z! says:

    I would love to see Mr Moore try to get a warrant for me since I'm 2000 miles from MA.

  39. Dan Weber says:

    Those are good arguments. Part of my issue is that I built up, in my head, an idea that he merely published the phone number, but I went to the links and found his intent was that people do flood the number.

    I think that crosses a line, although the line it crosses may not be the one that says "legal/illegal" or "moral/immoral." Maybe the line that says "innocent wee babe who didn't know what was going to happen."

  40. JRM says:

    Massachusetts has the broadest anti-recording statutes anywhere.

    Commonwealth v. Hyde (2001) allowed the conviction of a motorist who recorded his interaction with the police.

    Lest you think this only applies to cops, Massachusetts' rule applies to recording kidnappers' ransom requests; if the kidnapper is unaware of the recording, that's an unlawful interception (Commonwealth v. Jackson (1976)).

  41. Stan says:

    Glik v. Cuniffe (1st Cir. 2011) limited Hyde to "secret" taping. It held that open and obvious taping of police activity could not be prohibited, so long as the recorder was not physically interfering with the police.

  42. Ben B. says:

    @ Dan Weber

    It's far from clear that Miller intended to "flood the number," regardless of whether that could be illegal under some circumstances. He posted the following: "Maybe we can call or e-mail Richardson to persuade her to drop the charges against Hardy considering she should assume all her conversations with reporters are on the record unless otherwise stated. Her listed number is (617) 343-4520." He gave no indication that he wanted people to inconvenience Richardson by tying up her phone line; he was merely inviting people to petition the government (via an official police spokesperson) for a redress of grievances with respect to an issue of public concern. The only indication he gave that he preferred that people phone rather than e-mail was that he explicitly recited Richardson's work phone number, but even so he provided a hyperlink to Richardson's work e-mail address. In any event, I'm not aware that there is, nor do I think that there should be, a "flooding the lines" exception to the people's right to criticize / protest government conduct. It's somewhat perverse to suggest that the public's right to petition the government is inversely related to the amount of public outrage raised by the protested conduct.

    FWIW, with respect to your earlier post, I don't think that a caller's use of "abusive language" could properly be criminalized, absent an actual threat or a pattern of repeated phone calls sufficient to constitute some kind of stalking or harassment. Generally speaking, the government can only constitutionally criminalize insults and profanity to the extent that they constitute "fighting words," i.e., are reasonably likely to generate an immediate violent response on the part of the hearer. It would be virtually impossible to satisfy that standard in the context of words uttered in a phone call, let alone in the context of someone calling from thousands of miles away.

  43. Daniel Neely says:

    @Clark

    Why do you want the terrorists to win?

    The terrorists are the ones wearing badges

  44. Dan Weber says:

    It's far from clear that Miller intended to "flood the number,"

    Nonsense, it is his stated M.O.:

    Call floods to government agencies is a common tactic we have used here on PINAC after videos have emerged showing complete abuse of authority against citizens exercising their First Amendment rights to record.

    As annoying as it may be for public officials, we have a right to petition the government for redress of grievances without fear of retaliation.

    Please don't suggest he was just posting the number with the same dispassionate interest he would tell you about the weather in Peoria.

    (This obviously isn't intended to be a defense of the BPD.)

  45. Matthew says:

    So what if he wanted people to flood the number? It is just the same as a lunch counter sit on, a DDOS attack, etc.–all activity squarely protected by the First Amendment.

    I just wish more people realized that police officers aren't here to help protect the community. I get that, others here get that, but your average Joe on the street thinks we're the crazy ones.

  46. Aaron says:

    I called the number, and was greeted by someone cheery who informed me that I was calling the public information line. I asked to clarify that this was the line for the police department to communicate with the public on, and received a 'yes.' I said that I wondered what the department had to say about the case of the blogger who — and I was cut off. The moment she heard 'blogger.'

    'You have to email us about this. I can give you an email address.'

    May I please finish my sentence?

    'No. You may not finish your sentence. You have to send your comment by email to — '

    And any further 'excuse me please' or 'I'd like to just say' etc was talked over. She said the email, though I couldn't hear it because she said it while I was speaking, and then she hung up the phone. She seemed quite angry, too, from the moment I said the word 'blogger.'

    I agree with @Dan. She's a coward.

  47. Ben B. says:

    @ Dan Weber

    He wanted and expected people to call (&/or e-mail), no doubt, but I don't see any indication that he specifically intended to bombard her with phone calls to the point where she was so inconvenienced that she couldn't do her job (whatever that is, since she doesn't appear comfortable fielding questions from the public). But yeah, I stand corrected that in his 11/09/13 post Miller retrospectively justified the calls as a 'call flood,' even if the issue wasn't phrased that way in his initial post on 10/31/13. Maybe he used the 'call flood' phrase on 11/09 specifically as a means of emphasizing the fact, in the face of prosecution, that his original post constituted core First Amendment speech, even if he wasn't deliberately attempting to orchestrate a 'call flood' at the time. Anyway, no point getting hung up on the 'call flood' issue since nobody seems to be claiming that call floods are illegal.

  48. qwints says:

    I'm curious, how does jurisdiction work in a case like this? If an interstate telephone conversation is a criminal act, do both states have jurisdiction? I'd appreciate anyone pointing me in the right direction since brief searches aren't getting me anything up to date.

  49. VPJ says:

    If the Public Information Officer of a major metropolitan police department can't handle a bunch of calls from angry citizens about her department's whiny aversion to butthurt, then she's incredibly incompetent. I'd suggest that she should get a job requiring fewer people skills. Maybe something involving a shovel.

  50. Sami says:

    I wonder what they'd try to do if someone like me was doing it – i.e. an Australian citizen, in Australia. An extradition request on this one would likely be met with disbelieving laughter, after all.

  51. Xoshe says:

    @Matthew: To be fair, people have actually been charged for performing a DDOS, be it under a statute that specifically makes a DDOS illegal, or under statutes designed to protect specific systems or system types (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDOS#Legality).

    As a DDOS can actually result in physical damage to the targeted hardware if performed maliciously, I can see why this is the case. Not to mention that one can DDOS services and cause disruptions that you wouldn't necessarily disrupt (or expect to disrupt) with real-person protesting. But that can also just be a factor as to whether the intent was to simply protest or whether it was to cause harm, like I imagine normal protesting has?

  52. Sanderson Hemsworth says:

    I don't know if links are allowed, but the city council and police department in our small town (about 23K) has threatened and harassed several people for trying to take video cameras into public meetings of the city council, school board and other government bodies.
    In the video here, a local activist was stopped at the metal detector on his way into an open public meeting of the city council and threatened with arrest, because he was carrying a video camera. This is the third time this same man has been threatened with arrest for trying to record public meetings. In this case, what started with two security guards and one police officer, ballooned into a standoff with four security guards and twelve police officers. The activist said later that, if he hadn't worked for a government agency and depended on keeping a valid security clearance, he would have crossed the line he was told not to cross and forced the issue to a trial. Even though this happened in the past, the police department still threatens citizens attempting to record government meetings.

    (video) http://www.heavydata.net/files1/OpenMeetingViolation-7-19-2011.wmv

    (Stills) http://ctalks.net/index.php?showtopic=14446&page=2#entry145633

  53. En Passant says:

    Another possible angle — MA's long arm statute might not support jurisdiction over Carlos by MA courts. So persuading an MA court to order his arrest outside MA might not be trivial.

    But gangsters and thugs often find ways to revenge their butthurt anyway.

    I don't know MA state law, but the only MA long arm statute I found supports jurisdiction for acts or omissions "in this commonwealth", or under very limited conditions for acts "outside this commonwealth". Relevant portions seem to be (emphasis mine):

    Mass. Gen Laws. ch. 223A, § 3

    § 3. Personal Jurisdiction Based Upon Acts or Conduct Within Commonwealth.

    A court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a person, who acts directly or by an agent, as to a cause of action in law or equity arising from the person's

    (a) transacting any business in this commonwealth;

    (b) contracting to supply services or things in this commonwealth;

    (c) causing tortious injury by an act or omission in this commonwealth;
    (d) causing tortious injury in this commonwealth by an act or omission outside this commonwealth if he regularly does or solicits business, or engages in any other persistent course of conduct, or derives substantial revenue from goods used or consumed or services rendered, in this commonwealth;

  54. Matthew Cline says:

    I'm not sure I agree with him on that, but it's definitely not "witness tampering,"

    But it might be witness tempering.

  55. G. Filotto says:

    The sad thing is that this is not just funny, it is EXACTLY the level of "intellect" the (storm)troopers have. Still made me laugh tho.

  56. G. Filotto says:

    Hahhahaah best comment so far!

  57. NI says:

    @Aaron, the late Frank Kameny, who made a career out of annoying officious government bureaucrats, would have kept calling that cheery lady back over and over again until she talked to him. Granted, he was a full time political activist who really didn't have anything better to do with his time, but he once told me it's amazing what you can get, even from government bureaucrats, if you refuse to take no for an answer.

  58. Eli Rabett says:

    Of two minds about this. Any number of people publish contact information in politically oriented web sites to bring down shit storms on others (example: Mark Morano)

  59. Larry says:

    I'm curious as to why they don't want you recording public meetings. Common practice around here is that they are broadcast on one of the public access cable channels. Most of the time they are either incredibly boring or hilarious.
    The end result is that you get to watch the sweet talking idiot you voted for show what they really think. They usually don't run a second time.

  60. jdgalt says:

    Interesting new use of the term "Masshole." (My first reaction was, What does this post have to do with Critical Mass riders?)

  61. Christopher says:

    @jdgalt

    New?

    I think you've just been using the word wrong. A Critical Mass usage doesn't even show up on Urban Dictionary.

  62. Clark says:

    @Matthew Cline

    But it might be witness tempering.

    I'm currently reading Musimathics: The Mathematical Foundations of Music and your statement deeply confused me for a moment.

  63. I bluffed my way out of getting caged, maimed, and killed by telling several coproaches that I was live-streaming. This police state is gonna explode – and soon.

  64. Will says:

    Cops are not looking out for your best interests. Cops are looking to put someone in jail.

    Ken, this is only news to your white readers.

  65. I was Anonymous says:

    @Josh M,

    It's been that way for a LOOOOOONNNG time…. Back in '69-70, my dad got transferred to Boston for a year. He said that the drivers there were enough to send him to the Massachusetts State Home for the Bewildered (thank you Tom Lehrer).

  66. Shava Nerad says:

    May I suggest:

    http://www.dmlp.org/blog/2013/newsgathering-massachusetts-guide-now-available-online

    The Digital Media Law Project at the Harvard Berkman Center for Law and Society has a lovely guide for Massachusetts covering citizen media guidelines for news gathering.

    Carry a copy with you, and perhaps some of the little titanium Bill of Rights wallet cards from https://eff.org (the Electronic Frontier Foundation) who also has a great trove of advocacy material for bloggers, cop watch and other citizen, professional, and digital journalists of all stripes.

  67. J Farstrider says:

    "There may be constitutional problems with a wiretapping statute that allows prosecution of a citizen under those circumstances." Indeed there might! See Bartnicki v. Vopper, 532 U.S. 514 (2001).

  68. rmd says:

    @Clark,

    I'm currently reading Musimathics: The Mathematical Foundations of Music and your statement deeply confused me for a moment.

    Thanks for the recommendation, even if it wasn't really intended to be one. This is one reason why I love this place. A comment totally unrelated to the subject at hand pointed me to something totally fascinating. I'll be getting a copy as soon as payday rolls around.

  69. pjcamp says:

    Cops are scum.

  70. Jimbo says:

    Is it vigilante time yet?

  71. Jon says:

    Techdirt reports that, under threat of effective representation by Miller's lawyers, the lawsuit in question has been dropped. However, BPD shows no signs of contrition or of understanding that what they did was wrong.

  1. November 11, 2013

    […] Threaten to Charge PINAC Readers With Same (Updated II) | Photography is Not a Crime: PINAC Encourage People To Contact the Boston Police Department's Bureau of Public Information? That's A Ja… […]

  2. November 12, 2013

    […] to film police, has been charged by Boston police with — with what, exactly? [Brian Doherty; Ken at Popehat ("What a accomplishment: the Boston Police Department has discovered a way to make it a crime for […]

  3. November 13, 2013

    […] to film police, has been charged by Boston police with — with what, exactly? [Brian Doherty; Ken at Popehat ("What a accomplishment: the Boston Police Department has discovered a way to make it a crime for […]

  4. November 13, 2013

    […] Popehat: […]

  5. November 17, 2013

    […] Encourage People To Contact the Boston Police Department's Bureau of Public Information? That&… (popehat.com) […]

  6. November 24, 2013

    […] Encourage People To Contact the Boston Police Department's Bureau of Public Information?  Tha… […]