No Bags or Parcels

Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

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Postby Ron Newman » Sat Jun 26, 2004 7:07 am

This is the Massachusetts chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, so all of them are Massachusetts lawyers. The NLG has a lot of members who represent poor people and immigrants, so these aren't your white-shoe lawyers with million-dollar incomes. They probably ride the T much more often than most lawyers.

Why should they announce in advance where they're going to hand out leaflets? They probably don't even know themselves yet -- this kind of public education effort depends on where volunteers live and where they want to leaflet. I might do some of it myself around Davis Square.

And no, it's not just for the convention. The T says they want to do random searches at all times, not just the last week in July.

Here's the Mass. NLG's web site; check it out for yourself.
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Now I'm scared...

Postby Paul Cutler III » Sat Jun 26, 2004 10:05 am

You know what frightens me? Not the terrorists, not the US Gov't, but the US citizens who think the Bill of Rights is too liberal.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The real question is: what is reasonable?

Makes one wonder just how close we are to "1984".
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Postby trigonalmayhem » Sat Jun 26, 2004 6:45 pm

The main issue I have with 'random' checks/searches is that I don't quite see where the 'probable cause' comes into 'random.'


If there's probable cause to check everyone's bag (hence 'random' to get a good cross-section of everyone) then that means they suspect something of everyone.

Of course, such searches would be anything but 'random,' but that actually seems to make them MORE compliant with the need for probable cause (although this also skirts into the realm of racial profiling, which is of course NOT a good thing).




It really seems hard for me to understand how it could be implimented in practice without either eroding at the bill of rights or racially profiling people of middle-eastern descent.
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Re: Now I'm scared...

Postby efin98 » Sat Jun 26, 2004 8:01 pm

Paul Cutler III wrote:You know what frightens me? Not the terrorists, not the US Gov't, but the US citizens who think the Bill of Rights is too liberal.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


And the MBTA doesn't have that right with their own property? Give me a break, you can't have it both ways. The T is enforcing their own rights under the 4th Ammendment, which the MBTA is allowed to do. It is still private property, even if government owned.

The real question is: what is reasonable?


Nothing to you is reasonable. Anything that might hinder you from bringing a dozen packages on a train is limiting your "rights". You like others will never be satisfied until you are allowed to do whatever you like on T property. Sorry, but even the T has rights and is well within it's rights to enforce the ruling(despite your protests).

Makes one wonder just how close we are to "1984".


Farther than you think.
efin98
 

Postby apodino » Sat Jun 26, 2004 8:31 pm

Ed, the T is our property. Our tax dollars pay for it.
Rich "Dino" Martin
A one time happy rider of Arborway and the old Washington St. El.
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Postby efin98 » Sat Jun 26, 2004 8:42 pm

apodino wrote:Ed, the T is our property. Our tax dollars pay for it.


Wrong there Dino. Public property is also private too. Our tax dollars pay for the rail yards, yet you don't walk around inside them. Our tax dollars pay for military bases yet you don't barge in there. Our tax dollars pay for airports yet you can't go everywhere in them. Just because it's owned by a public entity doesn't mean it's open for you to use as you see fit. You have to pay to get in, you have to abide by the T's rules, you have get out when the T wants you to leave. Simple as that.

And by your thinking, we would be allowed to stay in stations over night, ride aroudn on buses all day and night without having to get off, ride trains to yards because "we" own them. Sorry, but that is just not true. I said this before and I will say it again until people udnerstand it: even the T has rights, and one of them is to make rules to ensure it's wellbeing as well as protect others. If you don't like that or can not abide by those rules then find some other way of getting into the city!
efin98
 

Re: Now I'm scared...

Postby apodino » Sun Jun 27, 2004 9:27 am

efin98 wrote:
Paul Cutler III wrote:You know what frightens me? Not the terrorists, not the US Gov't, but the US citizens who think the Bill of Rights is too liberal.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


And the MBTA doesn't have that right with their own property? Give me a break, you can't have it both ways. The T is enforcing their own rights under the 4th Ammendment, which the MBTA is allowed to do. It is still private property, even if government owned.

The real question is: what is reasonable?


Nothing to you is reasonable. Anything that might hinder you from bringing a dozen packages on a train is limiting your "rights". You like others will never be satisfied until you are allowed to do whatever you like on T property. Sorry, but even the T has rights and is well within it's rights to enforce the ruling(despite your protests).

Makes one wonder just how close we are to "1984".


Farther than you think.


Ok, my last post about our property was a bit of a reach, and it is actually an MBTA line that I have seen them use over and over again. I agree that there needs to be boundaries on what we can and can't do on T property.

However, since we are governed by the constitution, and we has citizens have a duty to uphold the constitution, we have the fourth amendment. Which says that we can not be subject to unreasonable searches or be searched without probable cause. Obviously, in the Airline industry, security is not unreasonable because of what has happened in the past. Which brings me to the T. I believe that if the searches that the T is planning on conducting really are random, it would be fine, because you would be taking a small sample to represent everybody. However, I don't believe you can be random. If you remember from Mr. Wizard, its impossible for someone to be totally random just by using their brain. The problem then becomes, is racial profiling involved and is there any system used to figure out who to search.

I think precautions like Bomb Sniffing dogs and increased MBTA police would work just fine. But unless you can prove to the public that the searches truly are random, you might still have a problem, and then an ACLU rep can get a court order against this in a heartbeat. And we have heard for years about more MBTA police, but i never seem to see them anywhere.
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Postby Zaphod » Sun Jun 27, 2004 12:31 pm

Even a totalitarian state like the Soviet Union suffered terrorist attacks at the hands of terrorists.

Do we want to live like the society we fought so hard against, where police come up to anybody they want, demand identification, and submit people to searches?

There are a million things that could happen on a given day to kill us or the people around us. We can either lock ourselves in our houses and live in fear, willingly surrendering our liberty to a government that supposedly knows what's good for us, or we can recognize that the reality of life is that more people are likely to die in an accidental derailment or collision than a terrorist attack.
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Postby SnoozerZ49 » Sun Jun 27, 2004 2:02 pm

Yes, there a million things out there that could cause us peril each day. As a railroad conductor who is proud of the traditions of railroading I take my responsibilities seriously. It is my job to minimize or eliminate those "chance encounters" with peril. I submit to and follow a system of rules and discipline designed to protect life and property. It is often said that our Book of Rules is written in blood, the blood of those that came before us, each rule the result of some previous tragedy.

It is hard for me to accept the premise that we must live and accept a statistical probablity of death or injury. I believe it is also folly to describe precautions in terms of totalitarianism, fascism or refer to publice safety personnel in terms of being "storm troopers".

The defense of our liberties must take place on many fronts. There are those that must remind us, cajole us and persuade us to be true to the meaning of our Constitution. There are others that must "man the walls" and provide the highest level of security and safety possible.

I have had to rely on the MBTA Police several times. Each incident was unique and required their ability to save troubled persons from their own actions or to restrain and take into custody other individuals that were causing harm to others. I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt to these Officers who are called upon the make split second choices. I am sure they won't always be right but I choose defend their abilities.
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ACLU protest of MBTA bag-search policy

Postby Ron Newman » Sun Jun 27, 2004 4:03 pm

A leaflet I picked up from an ACLU table in Copley Square yesterday. This effort is separate from that of the National Lawyers Guild:

MBTA SEARCHES:
WILL THEY MAKE YOU SAFER
OR SIMPLY LESS FREE?


The MBTA has announced that it will begin searching
bags of some passengers at some T stations starting
in early July. It intends this policy to be permanent.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?

    The possibility of long waits on your way to and from work.

    Your bags may be screened on a "random" basis by electronic screening devices and/or dogs.

    You may be refused entry to the "T" if you refuse to be searched.

    Anything the police find in the course of a search may be used against you in a criminal prosecution.

WILL THIS GIVE US REAL SECURITY?

    What terrorist will wait on line to be searched?

    Is this a good use of law enforcement time and resources?


ARE YOU WILLING TO TRADE YOUR LIBERTY
FOR A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY?

RALLY AGAINST THE "T" SEARCH
POLICY THAT SHREDS
THE 4TH AMENDMENT

THURSDAY JULY 1 FROM 8 AM - 9 AM
PARK STREET STATION, BOSTON


---------
SAFE AND FREE "T" ALLIANCE
For more information, call (617) 482-3170 x314

(end of leaflet)
The phone number given is for the Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Last edited by Ron Newman on Tue Jun 29, 2004 6:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby efin98 » Sun Jun 27, 2004 5:03 pm

Some people are letting their politics do their thinking for them, I think poster directly above me is one of them.

ACLU? Some obscure lawyers guild? You are reaching Ron, and refusing to acknowlege that even the MBTA has rights and those trump whatever supposed rights that you believe you have.
efin98
 

Postby CS » Sun Jun 27, 2004 8:36 pm

Okay, enough Ron. On one hand we are paranoid about removing the CR thread yet you seem very paranoid about your supposed "rights". Any person with common sense knows that while we have our rights, it comes up to a certain point. I will feel very unsafe without the MBTA taking these measures. Do you not think that a risk for a terrorist attack isn't real? It's real, like it our not. If something happened to someone close to you, you would say "why didn't they increase security". This isn't about the ACLU or some Lawyers, it's about the safety of Bostonians.


Do YOU want there to be an attack on Boston?
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Postby jrc520 » Sun Jun 27, 2004 9:33 pm

CALM DOWN. This goes to everyone. However, some points:

1. The current administration is known for it's lack of respect for civil rights.

2. The MBTA Police are known for their lack of respect of teens and non-white ethnic groups.

3. The MBTA does not have as many rights as you think. They are a company, not an individual.

4. The MBTA Police are held to the same restrictions as any other police force. Just because this is taking place on a transit system doesn't mean it's right. These officers are real police, not the hired guns that we see at malls and whatnot. Would you like to be randomly searched in public?

5. Giving up your freedoms for safety is exactly that. There are better ways of stopping an attack than this. Keeping people alert is one of them. Of course, a smart population is not easy to manipulate.

6. As a public agency, the MBTA is held accountable for their actions, and to say that the public cannot have a voice in what they do means protest is the only option.


That's about it. I'd go on with my own rants, but that would be dumb. Look, the point is that we have no need for this fear. This fear is what they want. I'm done. I could go on, but it's pointless.
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Postby Ron Newman » Sun Jun 27, 2004 9:43 pm

I feel quite safe on the MBTA. I feel safer now than I would if these measures were being taken (they haven't started yet, supposedly they start on July 1).
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Postby Zaphod » Sun Jun 27, 2004 10:58 pm

There seems to be a lot of confusion in our society between the possible and the probable. Just because something is possible doesn't mean that it is likely, and the steps taken to prevent the improbable are worse than the possible event.

For instance, in 2001 42000 people in the US died due to motor vehicle accidents. We could probably cut that rate in half by for example limiting speeds to 30 mph and installing governors on cars that would limit them to 30 mph. And if we could prevent all those accidents, wouldn't it be worth the sacrifice?

Think as well about the limited resources the T has. All the money poured into security efforts will mean that much less for station renovations, vehicle repair, and the like.
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