Main Topic Privacy Surveillance Take Action Transparency

Boston: Say No to BRIC Funding!

This Wednesday at noon the Boston City Council will decide whether to approve federal grants of up to $3.4 million for the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC). The BRIC is one of two Federal/State/Local police fusion centers in Massachusetts, but is run out of the Boston Police Department. It routinely surveils people for exercising their free speech rights. What data it gathers and how it spends the money given to it are hidden from view.

The Boston Herald reports that six of the thirteen Boston City Councilors support the funding including City Council President Ed Flynn and Councilors Frank Baker, Liz Breadon, Sharon Durkan, Michael Flaherty, and Erin Murphy. Councilors Ruthzee Louijeune and Julia Mejia have opposed it in the past.

We need all Bostonians to call their city councilors (district and at-large) regardless of their stated position and tell them to vote against these BRIC funding proposals. You can find your district city councilor at Where Do I Vote. The city councilors’ phone numbers are:

Here is a suggested script you can use when calling your city councilors:

Hi, my name is N.

I live in your district, and I’m very concerned about the BRIC grants the Council will be considering this week. Substantial evidence has emerged that BRIC is at best indifferent to, and at worst infiltrated by white supremacist officers. They use BRIC’s expansive powers of surveillance to gather information on, harass and prosecute Bostonians of color, immigrants, young people, activists, journalists and filmmakers.

I urge you to protect REAL public safety, by voting NO on these grants.

The speeches of two Boston Pirates who spoke at the recent Public Safety Committee meeting are reproduced below. The first is from Micky Metts:

Dumbledore is dead and the relatively new magic of BRIC is upon us.

Poverty = Death. This has been proven by studies like one on mouse utopias by John Calhoun – and the Pruitt-Igoe housing disaster in St. Louis,Mo. detailing the outcomes when services are removed and people are left to their own devices –

I echo the testimony of Alex Marthews and those that have spoken before me in opposition to the grants. I add –

I travel and have learned that Boston Police Department has a well known history of racial brutality, ignorance, low intellect and territorial disputes as well as nepotism.

My 50 years of empirical research is based on my leaving a truly comfortable life. I hitch-hiked here in the 1970’s from Westport, Connecticut, an idyllic town in Fairfield County with a residency of 14 billionaires. Police officers were my friends and were always helpful.

I purposely left with no assets, to see what kind of life I could build from nothing, in Boston. I had read about poverty and how it breeds crime, yet I was not raised in poverty on the streets of a major city, so I have a vastly different insight on how crime becomes a way of life for some residents and is facilitated by way of implementing harsh policing policies, in tandem with police violence, maintaining control of the levers, gears and machinations of policing couched in the definition of public safety – who does not wish to be safe and secure in their own person-hood? I know that poverty = death and leaves people vulnerable to receive penalties that are dictated by secret algorithms.

Accountability has never been a major component of Boston police operations and reporting to the community has been a curious mixture of saying one thing and doing another. This is highlighted by the relationship between BPD and far right groups that are able to control the fear factor for citizens. I have heard countless stories of repression that are usually related to war survivors, yet they come from ordinary citizens of Boston.

Accountability in Boston Police Department is and always has been laughable at best – the thick blue line of secrecy exists. Our city is not unique and I see this curtain of silence is used as a method of targeting the poorest neighborhoods with surveillance and isolation. Small things add up and create an atmosphere of unrest so police may respond with violence. The gang database is the glue that keeps the hierarchy of BPD relevant and focused on black and brown neighborhoods.

BRIC is asking for multiple grants worth millions of dollars to further humiliate citizens by demoting our self-worth and to further harm people by fear of real police retaliation. What is built into BRIC that assures citizens of accountability and guardrails are in place and laws around accessing personal data.

Can we use BRIC resources to look inward at officers with records and histories like Andy Creed and Steve Kimball, both supporters of white pride and white supremacy groups to examine and understand the damage they do in our world.

Please vote to dismantle this legacy of brutality known as BRIC and support our citizens with much needed resources like housing and medical assistance that will move us all towards the humane existence we ALL DESERVE as human beings.

The second speech is from former MassPirates First Officer, Lauren Pespisa, and recorded in this video:

My name is Lauren Pespisa. I am a film producer and resident of Brighton. I am also a victim of BRIC. I am asking you to reject these grants and I want to tell you my story to show you that the concerns about BRICs abuse of power to surveil and harrass activists is not hypothetical. BRIC targeted my husband and I relentlessly for years.

Specifically, I was targeted and harassed by Boston Field Detective Andrew Creed for my involvement in making the film “2020: The Dumpster Fire” with my husband Rod Webber. Andrew Creed is a detective with BPD and a JTTF officer/BRIC agent who has worked to spy on activists since BRIC was commissioned. He has been known to use surveillance tools to scan social media and target activists using hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter, #OccupyBoston and even #NoOlympics2024. The first knock came in January of 2021, after a Proud Boy told them that the trailer for our film was a plot to assassinate Donald Trump. Outrageous. While this claim was quickly put to rest after the first visit, Detective Creed continued to knock, subpoena and harass our friends and family. He made over 20 visits over the course of the year, asking questions and threatening to put me in jail. Even after he was told to stop because it was a first amendment issue by the Assistant US Attorney in MA, he traveled to multiple states to find a prosecutor willing to continue this farce which ended up going nowhere. This outrageously expensive harassment campaign is what your tax dollars and grants will continue to go to. 

I cannot stress enough the trauma, stress and financial pain being targeted by an unaccountable and frankly, creepy cop has caused myself, friends and family. I’ve had friends lose jobs because he would visit their workplace and imply they were criminals. I spent years looking over my shoulder and running out of my workplace when I’d get another call from a friend who’d been visited, telling me he’d show them photos of us from social media and ask vague questions like “Has Lauren ever said anything crazy?” At a certain point when no one has anything bad to say about me, you’d think he would knock it off, but no. He subpoena’d my facebook, violating my privacy and gaining access to countless personal and non-criminal conversations. 

All of this for making a satirical documentary trailer with Rod Webber, who out he’s been following since before I even met him. He bragged about following him in Standing Rock in 2015 on one visit. A Boston Police Officer followed a filmmaker making a documentary in North Dakota. That sounds expensive. I saw reports he filed in 2019 of Rod simply parking his vehicle and walking to the common. Why? He made it clear the goal was to silence us and chill our speech because he warned Rod not to speak publicly about the absurd harassment. 

Over the past few years I have gained access to BRIC reports due to discovery in another case. I have seen false reports filed against friends, based on knocks at the doors to gather “intel” from people who had something against them, and I’ve even seen reports that contain lies about sitting city councilors! 

While I was targeted relentlessly and needlessly for speaking truth to power, I am not the only person to have a traumatic story about BRIC. I have spoken to lawyers who flat-out told me “You are not the first young woman he’s taken a disturbing interest in”. Expanding BRIC’s staff, technology, and power means expanding the harm that officers like Andy Creed and others can do across the region. I urge you to vote against these grants. Please do not keep funding abusers. Grants to BRIC will not benefit the community, they will go to an Orwellian future where we end up paying for a boot to stomp on our faces over and over – forever.

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