Several Arrests Following Housing Rights Demonstration

A group of several housing activists blocked the entrance to Boston’s Municipal Court building last week, resulting in several arrests. The act of civil disobedience was intended to evoke a change in fair housing policies and practices.According to sources, it was the third time in four weeks that protesters have been arrested outside the Municipal Court building downtown, demonstrating against what are known as no-fault evictions. According to some of the participants, the acts were intended to bring awareness to situations involving individuals among them who are currently, “fighting eviction, condo-ization, or raising [of] rent.”

One of the men arrested was a nearly 85 year old housing rights activist, who was shortly thereafter arraigned and charged with disorderly conduct. Following the arraignment, the judge and attorneys said that the criminal charges were reportedly to be converted to civil charges.

The court system has published its own guide regarding the elements of disorderly conduct.

The three elements the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, in order to secure a conviction are:

  1. The individual either engaged in violent or threatening behavior or created a hazardous or physically offensive condition, that served no legitimate purpose;
  2. The individual’s actions were likely to affect the public; and
  3. The individual either intended to cause a public inconvenience/alarm, or recklessly created such inconvenience/alarm.

Further, in regards to specific recurring types of disorderly conduct, the court addresses the case of political protesters specifically. Political protester’s may properly be convicted of disorderly conduct when they engage in fighting, threatening, or otherwise generally violent or threatening behavior AND create a hazardous or physically offensive condition “by an act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor.” It specifically excludes from consideration the third factor, presumably on the basis of free speech protections.

This altercation is reminiscent of prior accusations that officers have made unwarranted arrests, with a lack of probable cause that individuals were actually violating the law. In this case, for example, the facts reported suggest that the demonstration was entirely void of physical altercation or violence, and merely an act of inconvenient obstruction. This is likely why the criminal charges were ultimately dropped. In some cases, there is so little legal justification for arrest, the an individual may be able to file a suit for false arrest, among other potential civil rights violations.

If you have been charged with disorderly conduct or any public order offense you need an experienced Boston, Massachusetts public order offense attorney to successfully defend your case. The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy is fully prepared to fervently and zealously defend you. Contact Attorney Murphy now for a free legal consultation criminal case by calling 617-367-0450 or through this website.

More Blog Posts:

Dunkin’ Donuts Robbery Believed to be Man’s 18th Incident, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published October 2, 2013
Second Arrest Made in Vehicular Homicide of Two Massachusetts Women, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published September 26, 2013

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