September 23, 2020

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The ACLU of Massachusetts today released a new interactive map marking cases of alleged police violence and misconduct across the Commonwealth. The new tool shows at least 115 reported cases of police brutality in 34 Massachusetts cities and towns over the last 10 years, and dozens of examples of documented misconduct.

The map is a key part of #PoliceViolenceHappensHere, an ACLU initiative to highlight Massachusetts reported cases of police misconduct and to underscore the urgent need for police reform. The ACLU launched the initiative today at an event where supporters of police reform stood out in cities and towns with recent reports of police violence. Volunteers displayed signs that said “Police violence happens here,” calling attention to cases in Boston, Brockton, Cambridge, Framingham, Lynn, Quincy, and Springfield.

“Contrary to the claims by police unions and other opponents of meaningful reform, Massachusetts is not immune to harmful or racially-disparate policing,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Police violence and misconduct happen here, in every corner of the state. From Boston to Springfield to Pittsfield, people experience policing differently depending on who they are and to what community they belong. Bay Staters deserve equal justice and demand meaningful police reform. Massachusetts lawmakers must act now to address past violence and prevent future harms.”

This summer, Massachusetts lawmakers responded to nationwide protests against police brutality with police reform proposals. A six-member conference committee has been working on a final compromise bill since August. The ACLU of Massachusetts has called for strong police reforms, including ending immunity for officers who violate the law and harm civilians, establishing an independent and effective police licensing system, banning law enforcement use of face surveillance technology, prohibiting the most violent police tactics, and investing in over-policed communities.

The new map, developed by the ACLU of Massachusetts’ Data for Justice Project, is a resource for the press, activists, and the public. Far from exhaustive, it draws from media reports to mark reported incidents of police brutality and misconduct across the state. Many incidents of police misconduct are never reported; what appears on this map likely just scratches the surface of the problem. The public will be able to offer comments and suggestions to further populate the map with incidents of police violence and misconduct.