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The Mapping Project

Brookline Police Department

In June of 2001, Brookline police broke up a peaceful and permitted rally protesting an event called the Israel Day of Celebration. Brookline police arrested Amer Jubran, a leading organizer of the protest, and accused him of "assault with a dangerous weapon" (his shod foot). The arrest was based on a false accusation by Alex Koifman, a prominent Zionist, that Amer had kicked him as he passed by.

According to the Boston Phoenix, Brookline police subsequently denied that they had broken up the demonstration: "Brookline’s police chief, Daniel O’Leary, insists that his officers simply responded to a complaint from an aggrieved participant in the Israel Independence Day celebration. Officers did not try to break up the demonstration, he says, nor did they try to suppress the activists’ free-speech and free-assembly rights." ("Kicking and Screaming," by Kristen Lombardi, Boston Phoenix, August 2-9, 2001.)

Freedom of Information Act requests submitted before Amer's trial produced dispatch tapes including the directives "clear the action .. from a demonstration taking place there" and "arrest Amer Jubran." ("Follow-up," by Kristen Lombardi, Boston Phoenix, September 6-13, 2001.) These FOIAs also produced evidence withheld by the prosecution, including the exculpatory testimony of a witness and a police video showing that the assault incident had not taken place. In addition, documents uncovered by the FOIA request revealed that the Brookline police had communicated with Israel Day Celebration organizers, including the Israeli Consulate, about plans for the pro-Palestine rally. (For more, see the website of the Amer Jubran Defense Campaign.)

After a prolonged court battle, the charge against Jubran was found to be groundless and was dismissed.

Amer and other Palestinian members of the New England Committee to Defend Palestine, a group Amer helped create, continued to be the object of police surveillance and repression. After Amer's arrest by federal authorities in 2002, further FOIA requests to the Brookline Police produced the following:

These documents, and the case surrounding them, revealed a pattern of information sharing between local and federal police agencies targeting Palestinian activists for their political speech.

Brookline is one of the nine municipalities in the Metro Boston Homeland Security Region, which coordinate information sharing under the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (see separate entry for BRIC). Brookline Police have also participated in Urban Shield militarized police exercises organized by the US Department of Homeland Security.

In 2015, a Black member of the Brookline Fire Department brought a public complaint against the Town of Brookline for racial discrimination and filed a lawsuit. The suit was later joined by seven other employees, including two Brookline Police Department officers. The case drew attention to the culture of racism inside the Brookline Police Department, resulting in greater press scrutiny of the department's own statistics on its interactions with the public. As reported in Boston Magazine: "In 2015, for example, Brookline officers performed 76 'field interrogations' of people who were stopped for what they deemed to be suspicious activity. In a town where roughly 3 percent of residents are black, 23 of those stops—or 30 percent—were of black people." ("Does Brookline have a problem with Black people?," by Gus Garcia-Roberts, Boston Magazine, October 16, 2016.) The statistics on "field interrogations" (stops with no meaningful standard of cause) are especially relevant in context: one of the plaintiffs in the case reported that other officers referred to him as an "FI" (field interrogation) because he was Black.

(For more on the history of police in Massachusetts, see entry on Boston Police.)

350 Washington St, Brookline, MA 02445

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