Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Is it the official policy of the Franklin Massachusetts Police Department to categorize pro-lifers as "domestic terrorists"?

LifeSiteNews is reporting:

A pro-life activist in New England says he was unjustly beaten, arrested, and accused of a bomb plot while passing out pro-life bookmarks at a local town fair.

“I’m at peace because Our Lord and Savior was by me the whole way,” D’Attilio told LifeSiteNews in an interview. “I was shocked when it did happen. It was completely unexpected and out of the blue because I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I never got so much as a warning. They basically just grabbed me and cuffed me without a crime.”

In his account of what happened, published online by the pro-family group MassResistance, pro-life activist Peter D’Attilio says that police approached him on the evening of August 11 when he was handing out two-inch-wide pro-life bookmarks to six teenagers. D’Attilio was at the annual St. Rocco fair on the grounds of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Franklin, Massachusetts.

Peter D'Attilio with the black eye that he says he received after being punched by Officer Burchill. According to D’Attilio, the police asked him to present identification. After asking why, the police officer reportedly responded that by law D’Attilio had to identify himself when asked by an officer.

In the police report filed by Officer Robert Burchill, Burchill says that he approached D’Atillio only after the chairman of the festival, Peter Brunelli, asked him to. The officer says that Brunelli had received several complaints about D’Atillio and that he wanted him removed from the property.

The pro-life activist says that when the officer prevented him from leaving the property after he offered to leave voluntarily, “I told him he was illegally detaining me.”

“He then put his hand in my back pocket to grab my wallet, but I also put my hand in my back pocket to hold my wallet, so he gave up trying.” At that point D’Attilio was put into handcuffs.

The pro-life activist says that after he was handcuffed he suddenly found himself pushed to his knees while the police officer “started choking me,” after which the officer reportedly punched him in the face, giving him a black eye.

In the police report, Officer Burchill claimed that D’Attilio repeatedly resisted arrest. “While I was trying to place the handcuffs on him, he pulled away and had to be physically restrained and handcuffed,” he said.

The officer said that D’Attilio again resisted when the officers were placing him into the police cruiser, and that “he had to be physically put into the cruiser.”

D’Attilio, however, denies the charge. “He claimed I tried to resist that, which I didn’t,” he said.

At the police station, D’Attilio says that the sergeant who did the booking asked him if he had planned to blow up the fair, telling him that pro-life people “are known for that kind of thing.”

When D’Attilio got out of jail, he found that his truck had been thoroughly searched with “bomb-sniffing dogs.” The pro-life activist says he has been told that he has been put on a “terrorist watch list.”

“By putting us all, every pro-life citizen, on the (Modern Militia Movement), it sends a powerful message that stereotypes all civil rights activists against abortion as terrorists,” he told LSN. The Modern Militia Movement is a government collective that identifies the warning signs of potential domestic terrorists for law enforcement communities.

D’Attilio, who still needs a lawyer to represent him, was arraigned in court before a judge on August 19, and is scheduled to appear in court again at 9:00 a.m. on September 28. He has filed a citizen’s complaint about his treatment at the hands of the police.

Neither Franklin Police Chief Stephen Williams nor Franklin Town Council Chairman Scott Mason responded to a request for comment from LSN.

I'm not surprised that Chief Williams decided not to respond to LSN.  Remember when the Obama administration issued its "Domestic Extremism Lexicon" to the Department of Homeland Security back in 2009?  The pro-life movement was defined in this lexicon as, "A movement of groups or individuals who are virulently anti-abortion and advocate violence against providers of abortion-related services, their employees, and their facilities. Some cite various racist and anti-Semitic beliefs to justify their criminal activities."

Is this the position of Chief Williams and his department?  That pro-lifers are a danger to the community?  That pro-lifers are prone to domestic terrorism?

It was the French philosopher Gabriel Marcel, a man whose thought so greatly influenced my own, who said that, "Fanaticism is essentially opinion; opinion pushed to paroxysm; with everything that the notion of opinion may imply of blinded ignorance as to its own nature...whatever ends the fanatic is aiming at or thinks he is aiming at, even if he wishes to gather men together, he can only in fact separate them; but as his own interests cannot lie in effecting this separation, his is led...to wish to wipe his opponents out. And when he is thinking of these opponents, he takes care to form the most degrading images of them possible - they are 'lubricious vipers' or 'hyenas and jackals with typewriters' - and the ones that reduce them to most grossly material terms. In fact, he no longer thinks of these opponents except as material obstacles to be overturned or smashed down. Having abandoned the behaviour of a thinking being, he has lost even the feeblest notion of what a thinking being, outside himself, could be. It is understandable therefore that he should make very effort to deny in advance the rights and qualifications of those whom he wishes to eliminate; and that he should regard all means to this end as fair. We are back here again at the techniques of degradation...fanaticism is, of its very nature, incompatible with any regard for truth; and as truth itself is not really seperable from our regard for it, we need not hesitate to say that the fanatic is the enemy of truth..." (Man Against Mass Society, pp. 149-150).

The Franklin Massachusetts Police Department should be investigated.  Have other pro-lifers been treated in similar fashion? 


Michael Cole said...

The FPDis out of control. I agree, it should be investigated by the Department of Justice. The sergeant's assertion that pro-lifers "are known" for bombing is absolutely chilling. What's next for the FPD? Entering the homes of pro-lifers without a warrant during the middle of the night and dragging them off to jail as suspected terrorists?

Jonathan said...

Massachusetts is becoming increasingly hostile toward pro-life and pro-family individuals and groups. The officer who beat D'Attilio should be the subject of a criminal investigation and the Chief should also be looked at. This is just plain disturbing.

ShrewsburyCatholic said...

Michael, Massachusetts is becoming more and more politically fanaticized. Which is why our Governor, Deval Patrick, who marches with GLBT fanatics against family values, will do nothing about this. This is the land of Martha Coakley, where those who who maintain pro-family beliefs cannot expect justice or fairness.

As far as police departments conducting an "internal investigation," we all know this is a joke. One could produce a videotape of a police officer beating a pro-lifer to death and the department would come to the conclusion that there was "no wrongdoing."

If the Federal government doesn't look into this hideous abuse of power, no one will.

Wendy said...

If this had been a homosexual activist, the full weight of government in Massachusetts would come crashing down on the police officer who would be charged with a hate crime.

BostonCatholic2011 said...

In my opinion, officer Burchill is a liar and should be investigated by internal affairs and/or by an independent civilian panel. This ismacks of abuse of power. D'Attilio wasn't breaking any laws. And he had the right to simply leave the scene. But the fact that a police sergeant would equate pro-life activism with domestic terrorist activity is chilling.

Ellen Wironken said...

This isn't the first time the Franklin Police Department has used excessive force while violating civil rights. The following is from Wicked Local:

FRANKLIN — Alleging they were victims of what their lawyer called an outrageous display of excessive force by a police officer, one current and three former students at Dean College have filed suit in federal court.

The four are seeking $1 million in damages, and have named two Franklin officers and the town as defendants.

The plaintiffs claim their constitutional rights were violated when Officer Douglas Nix drew his gun and aimed at them after pulling over their SUV on Feb. 28, 2009.

Making the stop because of a lights violation, Nix got out of his police car and yelled, "Don't (expletive) move" as he approached the sport utility vehicle, according to the suit.

Then Nix held driver Ryan Adkin at gunpoint while pulling him out of his Jeep Cherokee by the throat, according to a civil complaint filed last month in Boston's U.S. District Court.

Nix threw Adkin onto the middle of Rte. 140 and punched him in the face before arresting the 21-year-old Connecticut resident, the complaint reads.

Wilson D. Rogers III, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said what happened two days later, on March 2, 2009, is "very telling."

The charges against Adkin - failing to stop for police, a lights violation and resisting arrest - were dropped. The dismissal came after a sidebar conversation between Franklin Police prosecutor Edward Clifford and a judge. Adkin sat in the gallery at Wrentham District Court, waiting to be arraigned.

According to the official court recording, Clifford told the judge he needed to dismiss the complaint because "the police officer who made the arrest made a traffic stop into a horrible situation."

"This kid didn't do anything wrong. He reached for his wallet, the cop pulled him out of the car, held the four kids at gunpoint until some cop on backup got there. Said the kid resisted him. ... The kid complied, went right to the ground and just ... it's the cop's fault. It's not the poor kid's fault," Clifford told the judge, according to the complaint.

The incident was investigated internally by the Franklin Police Department and Nix was issued a memo on the results on March 10, 2009, according to the complaint...

Read the rest at Wicked Local.

Brian Letourneau said...

Evidently the FPD isn't too keen on civil rights. Looks like Chief Williams needs to go!

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