According to a press release posted on Occupy Boston’s website on Sunday, a protest and march are being planned for all major Boston and Cambridge T stations, “to demand an end to random, un-warranted bag checks in subways.”
Since October 2006, the MBTA has been conducting random security inspections at stations throughout the system. The move was re-instituted by former Governor Mitt Romney.
The bag checks, according to the MBTA, take roughly 10 to 20 seconds and are done at random, “as part of an overall layered strategy to deter and prevent a terrorist attack.”
Passengers can refuse a bag test and check, however, they will not be allowed to ride the T if they do, according to the MBTA’s website.
The inspections are conducted by “swabbing” the zipper, seams or handle of a bag to look for traces of explosive material. The technology does not require passengers to open their bags, however, a request can be made if warranted, according to a 2006 press release from the MBTA.
The searches are done in partnership with the Transportation Security Administration.
Constitutional and Human Rights activists are planning a five-leg march called “TSA Out of the MBTA,” which will culminate on Boston Common, fighting against the long-time bag checks, and demanding an end to the practice.
The group called the inspections an “egregious violation of [Fourth] Amendment protections.”
The fourth amendment protects citizens against “unreasonable searches and seizures” without probable cause.
The event is scheduled for February 2, and already 137 people have said they will attend, according to a Facebook invite page.
Activists have also started a Twitter account for the action, called “Defend the Fourth.”
Groups will meet at Kenmore, Harvard, Ruggles, Lechmere, and South Station at noon on the day of the protest, and then converge at the bandstand on the Common—the same place Occupy Boston met for their first-ever gathering.
“The community members who are planning this protest are not part of any organized group of any kind. We are ordinary citizens gathering to protest the violation of our rights as recognized and affirmed by Amendment IV of the U.S. Constitution,” the group said in a statement Sunday.
Prior to the march, activists will deliver letters to MBTA officials, Governor Deval Patrick, Mayor Thomas Menino, and the Department of Homeland Security, demanding the T stop “warrantless bag checks being conducted on law-abiding citizens and visitors to the Commonwealth.”
To read more articles about the controversial practices, and past protests, sift through some of these posts.
Below is a map of the planned meeting spots for the February 2 protest.