November 14th, 2013

Boston Police Arrest Student on Wiretapping Charges for Video Recording Them 25

By Carlos Miller

MA_-_Boston_Police_Badge

When it comes down to it, the Glik vs. Boston case wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.

Sure, it netted Simon Glik a $170,000 settlement after he was arrested on wiretapping charges for openly recording cops in a Boston public park and it even forced police to admit the cops had used “unreasonable judgment,” which evidently is an ingrained trait within the department.

And we all refer to it as a “landmark case,” simply because it confirmed what we knew all along. That recording police in public is not a crime. Never mind the countless court cases that previously determined the same thing.

But it didn’t take long after the ink had dried for Boston police to continue abusing that charge as well as to continue abusing their authority over citizens who record them in public.

The latest involves a college student who was participating in the celebrations after last month’s Red Sox World Series victory. Or riots, depending on whom you ask.

Either way, Tyler Welsh, a 20-year-old student from Northeastern University came across a cop outside Fenway Park who didn’t come across very professional. As if that’s anything new in Beantown.

Welsh, having already had a bad experience with Boston cops two weeks earlier for trying to record them, decided to pull out his phone and start recording.

It landed him in jail on felony wiretapping charges. As if that’s anything new in Beantown.

Not much information is available at this time on the incident that came to my attention via the Boston blog Universal Hub.

And I have yet to come across a video – if it hasn’t been deleted by police – but I’ve reached out to Welsh through Twitter in the hopes he will fill us in on the details.

All we have now is what was reported in The Huntington News, an independent student newspaper, which stated the following:

I was able to catch up with the student charged with wire-tapping, Tyler Welsh, to hear what he did in the confrontation to deserve that charge. He said he and the officer got into an argument after Welsh questioned why he couldn’t go past the barricades the police had set up to contain students near Fenway Park.

“It was like the situation was getting to the point where I thought he wasn’t doing the right thing,” Welsh said. “He was lacking that professionalism and I thought, ‘I’m going to catch this on camera so at least I can go back and have it and be able to see if what he said was okay, was it not okay or was what I was doing okay?”

Welsh described the confrontation with the officer in an all too familiar way for anyone who ever been in the same situation. He described feeling nervous, afraid and losing control of the entire situation. So he put his phone in front of his chest and began to record a video.

It wasn’t the first time the student felt the need to do so.

Two weekends ago, Welsh was outside a party Boston Police shut down in Mission Hill. He encountered five police officers surrounding and pushing one second-year business student, Michael Kerr, and once again felt the need to document the incident.

“I exited the building after asking a cop inside if I could retrieve my jacket, who replied by grabbing me by my collar and yelling at me to leave immediately,” Kerr said. “I asked another officer outside the same, at which point I was surrounded by 5 of them pushing me and calling me a ‘tough guy’ and to ‘stop with all the questions.’”

Clearly, Boston police do not believe in transparency. So much to the point where they are now becoming the laughing stock of the nation.

According to the Washington Post:

The city of Boston has a problem with public scrutiny.

Last year, the city agreed to pay $170,000 to settle a lawsuit by a man who was arrested for using his cellphone to record the actions of Boston police officers in a public park. The case set an important precedent that the First Amendment protects the right of ordinary citizens to openly record the actions of public officials when they’re performing their duties in public.

Evidently, that episode didn’t cause the city to rethink its combative approach to public scrutiny. In August, another Boston citizen posted a video of an altercation with two plainclothes Boston cops. The video, which showed the officers ordering a man to move far away from the scene of an arrest, outraged readers of Photography Is Not a Crime, a blog that advocates for citizens’ rights to record public officials. They called the city to complain about the officers’ behavior.

One of the callers was a journalism student named Taylor Hardy. He spoke to Boston public information officer Angelene Richardson. Hardy recorded the call and posted a portion of it to YouTube. According to Carlos Miller, author of Photography Is Not a Crime, Richardson responded by filing an application for a criminal complaint against Hardy for wiretapping, a charge that could carry penalties of up to five years in prison. (In a Facebook comment captured by Miller, Hardy claims he obtained Richardson’s consent to record the call, which if true would nullify the wiretapping issue.)

An outraged Miller blogged about the incident. “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,” Miller wrote, providing readers with Richardson’s work phone number.

That produced still more calls to Richardson’s work phone. Apparently, the calls alarmed Richardson, because last week Miller received notice about another application for a criminal complaint. This one accused Miller of witness intimidation, a crime that carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

The Post, which was able to reach me in minutes for comment this morning, has been unable to make contact with the Boston Police Departments’ Bureau of Public Information, even though by now their number has been plastered on numerous websites following the Boston Boondoggle. Or maybe because of it.

“I’ve never spoken once to Angeline Richardson, who I’m supposedly intimidating,” Miller says. “I’ve never sent her an e-mail, never made a phone call.” And he says that there’s been no allegations that his readers have threatened Richardson.

“I’ve been writing this blog for six and a half years,” Miller says. “One of the things we do is I put a phone number up there. I encourage people to call police officers. My readers are very professional. They don’t make any threats. There are no allegations of that.”

What do Richardson and the City of Boston think about this? We’ve been trying to contact them for three days, but they haven’t responded to any of our calls or e-mails.

So maybe it’s time for interim Boston Police Commissioner William Evans to make a statement. Or take control. Or make some attempt at damage control considering his department has clearly lost control and has proven unable to provide a simple statement to one of the nation’s most respectable newspapers, the paper that brought down a presidency.

According to a Suffolk County District Attorney’s press release, the case against Welsh is moving forward, even though it is not very clearly written.

Of the 12 people arrested by Boston, State, and MBTA Transit police, Roxbury District Court Judge Tracy-Lee Lyons dismissed one case for lack of probable cause and continued a second man’s case for arraignment at a later date.  Those two men were a 23-year-old Allston man arrested by Transit Police for trespassing into the tunnel leading from the Blandford Street MBTA stop toward Kenmore Square and a 20-year-old Northeastern University student who allegedly refused to follow Boston Police officers’ orders to leave the area of Kenmore Square and recorded the confrontation on his cell phone.

I am assuming the case that was dismissed for lack of probable cause was the one of the 23-year-old student charged with trespassing and the case that was continued was of the 20-year-old Northeastern student, who would be Welsh, simply based on the order of placement within the sentences in which they are referenced.

But everything seems to work backwards in Boston, so you never know.

Maybe it has to do with that Dirty Water.


Send stories, tips and videos to Carlos Miller.
  • Rusty Gunn

    I really wish I had the funds to organize a “Photograph the Cops of Boston” campaign and just inundate their courts with a massive overload of identical cases.

  • ray brown

    Win, lose or draw. At least the incident is video recorded. Notwithstanding Constitutional issues the recording was not secret if recorded parties are visible.

    • Difdi

      If they could tell they were being recorded well enough to zero in and abuse the photographer for filming them, then it couldn’t have been secret, right?

  • BusPass

    My favorite part was when one of the “good cops” stepped up and stopped the bad ones from acting like total toolbags and violating the rights of the student.

  • TBK Revolution

    Just remember, Boston Police are militarized and were permitted to do warrantless door to door home invasions at gunpoint, treating everyone like a suspected terrorist, all in the name of finding a teenage bombing suspect, who wasn’t even discovered by the police even after they had pulled people from their homes with guns pointed at them. Why wouldn’t the Boston PD believe that they have absolute control and shouldn’t be held accountable for violating the rights of citizens? Boston PD has gone full police state…

    • Jeffrey Marcus Gray

      Look at these oath violating robots. They could care less about violating peoples rights. These cops were pointing rifles at children as they forced them from their homes without warrants. Whats even worse is the fact that most people in Boston considered these cops heroes for what they did after the marathon bombing. Why haven’t we heard about any body suing these tyrants for violations of their rights.

      • Difdi

        It’s “couldn’t care less”. Saying they “could care less” has the opposite meaning to what you intend to say.

    • Orwell was from the future

      The pictures from this day are by far more frightening than pictures from 9/11.

  • David

    you can not tresspass upon public space, nor can you breach the peace of a sworn peace officer.

    • JdL

      you can not tresspass [sic] upon public space, nor can you breach the peace of a sworn peace officer.

      Do you not see the irony in your words? “Public space”. If citizens can’t “trespass” on public space, who can?

      “The peace of a sworn peace officer.” You’re new to PINAC, right? These criminal thugs called cops haven’t lived up to their sworn duties for decades. They’ve sown, and they’re about to reap, with total justice, the exact opposite of peace.

      • George

        “you can not tresspass upon public space”

        Literally!

  • Freedom_Fighter_of_America

    This may actually be a good thing. It’s another incident to show a clear and calculated and systematic pattern of abuse which could eventually catch the eyes of the feds who will hopefully slap them down.

    • Difdi

      If any other organization were even half as systematic in violating the law as the average police force, they would be stripped of everything they own through asset forfeiture and every member of the organization, from the bosses down to the new hires would be in prison via the RICO Act and other conspiracy statutes.

      But police are exempted from all laws simply because a member of their organization states that violating laws is simply their official policy. In ANY other organization, that would be considered a CONFESSION!

  • hardh8

    The police state is winning and we’re losing.

    • JdL

      The police state is winning and we’re losing.

      I won’t deny that times are bad right now. But as long as you have not relinquished your inner spirit, we have not lost. There are millions of us who will not go willingly into the police state that the criminal government thugs have planned for us, and I’m confident that many more will join us once the criminals’ hand is revealed.

  • paschn

    Like the blow-flies in D.C. they run interference for, who pass laws granting favors to themselves while the people suffer(in silence). The sycophants-in-blue have morphed into the problem, not a solution;

    http://www.brasschecktv.com/videos/the-bogus-drug-war-1/illegal-steroid-use-by-cops-an-epidemic.html

    Swine.

  • JdL

    I try real hard to find humanity in everyone, but these pitiful criminal thug cops are the closest thing the world has ever seen to “sub-human”.

  • Pingback: Boston Police Hate Cameras ... Until They Need Them | Photography is Not a Crime: PINAC

  • James Morgan

    Carlos.. you’re bringing more “HEAT” they don’t want.. so expect them to do something more about it. Do yourself a favor.. look outside your residence for any ‘nondescript’ cars with people in them, or a van or service truck that’s parked within the sightline of your residence. If what I think will happen does…. record the encounter and post it please.

  • snakeguy

    at least this kid will be able to quickly pay off his student loan debt with the settlement he’ll get.

  • ray brown

    That’s why people are going to have to start using hands free cameras. The police should have been happy with cameras in view. Now they won’t have constant reminder they’re being watched.

  • Zhaliberty

    I think this kid needs a call flood. No need to post numbers here, the BPD numbers are all over the internet as well as the District Attorney and Mayors offices. And since most of us are internet savvy and actually understand how google works, posting public phone numbers is unnecessary. Let’s support Tyler Welsh.

  • Frodo

    Let’s face it, a $170,000 is not a lot of money to a big city like boston, They just pay it and forget about it. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe NYC paid out 175 million in NYPD related settlements just last year.

  • Pingback: Boston PD: Filming Police is Wiretapping | The Firewall

  • http://clintjcl.tumblr.com/ ClintJCL

    Boston: The city that shuts down in response to Cartoon Network advertisements. The city that shuts down and invades homes in response to one explosion. City of pussies.

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