Passenger Identity Checks

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

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Postby Ron Newman » Mon May 24, 2004 10:30 am

I see several problems here:

The MBTA has not notified passengers in any way that they are required to carry IDs. There is nothing about this on the MBTA web site, nor have I seen any posters or leaflets on this subject.

The MBTA should not adopt such a policy change without several months of public hearings. This has at least as much impact on the public as station redesigns or bus service changes.
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Postby Xplorer2000 » Mon May 24, 2004 10:31 am

SbooX wrote:
Xplorer2000 wrote:And the scariest part is that this is happening in a fairly Liberal state like Massachusetts......I'd hate to see what they'd try to pull in a state like Texas.......


In Texas, only Communists and gays use public transportation.

:wink:

LOL!!! :) :wink: :D
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Postby octr202 » Mon May 24, 2004 1:54 pm

Of course, up until DART and Trinity Rail Express came along, the real answer about public transportation in Texas was, "huh?"
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Postby Ken W2KB » Tue May 25, 2004 12:27 pm

>>>I'll just tell them a bogus name, <<<

While I don't specifically know about Massachusetts law, in many states intentionally giving false information to a police officer is a crime. Note, not simply a disorderly persons offense or a motor vehicle type penalty, but a criminal penalty with potential for years of jail time.
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Postby SmithN23 » Wed May 26, 2004 3:42 pm

Ken W2KB wrote:>>>I'll just tell them a bogus name, <<<

While I don't specifically know about Massachusetts law, in many states intentionally giving false information to a police officer is a crime. Note, not simply a disorderly persons offense or a motor vehicle type penalty, but a criminal penalty with potential for years of jail time.


you are correct, it is perjury.
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Postby Robert Paniagua » Thu May 27, 2004 5:45 am

Yeah but punishable by only a $500.00 fine, unlike other offences, trying to circumvent a warrant by giving a bad name is punishable by a fine of $500.00 as mentioned.
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Postby Ron Newman » Thu May 27, 2004 11:57 am

"Perjury" is lying under oath, so it doesn't apply here.
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Postby SmithN23 » Thu May 27, 2004 12:26 pm

Ron Newman wrote:"Perjury" is lying under oath, so it doesn't apply here.


actually it is also lying on any legal document or to a police officer. look at http://www.state.ma.us/legis/laws/mgl/268-1.htm and http://www.state.ma.us/legis/laws/mgl/268-1A.htm
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Postby SbooX » Thu May 27, 2004 1:45 pm

Well, if my worst fears are confirmed and we are looking at random id checks, or checkpoints the only way to reverse the policy will be through civil disobedience. If an officer asks to see your id it is a citizens duty to respectfully refuse that request. History is laden with examples of good people allowing bad things to happen because it is the law. We've already started down the slippery slope in this country (PATRIOT Act), and its going to take a whole lot of kicking and screaming to get back up that hill.

I would suggest that those of you who are extremely uncomfortable with this policy do one of the two following things to oppose this policy:

    1. Do not carry an ID with you. If asked for an ID, you can legitimately claim to be unable to produce one. To the best of my knowledge, there is no law requiring you to have an ID unless you are driving. This is likely the safest approach for those who can't risk an arrest.

    2. Respectfully refuse to provide your ID. This could be extremely risky and could result in arrest, though possibly not prosecution. (Who would want to waste their time prosecuting such a case unless you were disrespectful, or were an actual suspected terrorist?) The key here, is that it must be respectfull. "Screw you pig," would not be usefull in furthering a dialogue on the subject.


I would not personally hold an officer responsible for following a foolish policy like this, though I would try to persuade them to stop creating a police state. Cops are not perfect, but the overwhelming majority of them are good, decent, moral people who are just trying to do what they see as right. If they see ID checks as being the right thing to do, then it is our job to persuade them that it is the wrong thing to do.

Personally, I've decided that I will refuse to provide my ID. The idea of my country becoming a police state frightens and angers me. The potential for abuse of this policy is too great. Police (MBTA Police in particular) have a well documented problem with race in this country (percieved or not), and this just opens the door for additional abuse. Abuse of the ID checks may not just be limited to race however as history has shown us. Dissidents are likely to feel the pinch as well. COINTELPRO shows beyond any doubt that America is every bit as capable of disallowing dissent as any dictatorship. If a person who is disliked by the police (for example, an outspoken black leader calling for an end to racial profiling) shows their ID, an officer may initiate a policy of harrassment, by holding them while "running checks" on them. Its happened before in this country and it could happen again. This new policy just makes it easier.

Well, thats my two cents. I'd love to hear any other ideas about how to oppose this policy, (I suppose you could contact your elected "leaders."), and even about why I'm wrong. At a minimum we need a vigorous debate before surrendering our rights to the state.

Tom Marshall
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Postby Ron Newman » Thu May 27, 2004 3:59 pm

The first link refers specifically to statements under oath in a courtroom, and the second to written statements; neither applies in this situation.
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