Unprecedented Security for Democratic Convention
ACLU Calls Planned Measures A Violation of 4th Amendment
By James P.
As part of
unprecedented security measures during the Democratic National Convention in
Boston the week of July 26, police officials there are advising all commuters
in the area who use public transportation to avoid carrying briefcases, purses,
backpacks, grocery bags or other parcels on subways and trains or risk being
stopped and subjected to random searches.
The precautions, police say, were prompted by the
train bombings in Madrid, which caused the heavily favored incumbent government
to lose an election. American officials fear that, with this success,
terrorists will attempt to similarly affect U.S. elections.
Civil liberties groups said the random searches
are unconstitutional and they will be monitoring police action to detect any
rights violations in such searches.
“This approach violates the Fourth Amendment’s
protections against unreasonable searches without making anyone safer,” said
Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Moreover, any
system that is truly random—in which the police exercise no discretion—will be
incapable of either catching or deterring terrorists, given that more than one
million people use [Boston’s subway] each day.”
Commuters carrying such items will be subject to
random searches. They can refuse to be searched, but police officials have said
they will be denied access to public transportation.
Huge backups are anticipated as police fan out to
subway and train stops to check passengers.
“We are not looking for joints,” a police officer
said when asked if arrests would be made if illegal items of a non-threatening
nature were found.
© American Free Press 2004