Updated June 28, 2004








Unprecedented Security for Democratic Convention

Unprecedented Security for Democratic Convention

ACLU Calls Planned Measures A Violation of 4th Amendment


By James P. Tucker Jr.


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