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Attorney Marc Randazza, one of the nations most accomplished First Amendment attorneys who has represented me in several legal matters, has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Canton Police for threatening to arrest peaceful protesters outside of D&E Pizza on Sunday.001 - Verified Complaint
005 - Memo in Support of Motion for TRO and PI
The lawsuit is brought on behalf of turtle riders Meredith O’Neil, Jessica Svedine, Deanna Corby, Jenna Rocco, Nick Rocco, and Roberto Silva, and is filed against defendants Canton Police Department, the Town of Canton, Chief Helena Rafferty, Sgt. Joseph Silvasy, and Officers Anthony Pascarelli, Robert Zepf, and Michael Chin.
The four listed officers are the men who responded to the call on Sunday. According to police call logs the person who called Canton Police to alert them to the protest was Ken Mello, the special prosecutor in the Commonwealth’s witness intimidation case against Turtleboy. Mello was reportedly contacted by Chris Albert, who has the State Police and DA’s Office on speed dial, since they apparently work exclusively for him.
Here is a text message between Chris Albert and an individual plotting to have me arrested for violating the stay away order via third party contact.
In the messages Chris Albert indicated that he sent videos of my live streams to Lt. Brian Tully, who was coming to D&E Pizza to take a report. The two of them talk about how Turtleboy “needs to be violated,” and discuss plans to have other peaceful protesters charged for congregating outside of D&E Pizza.
Randazza’s complaint points out how Chris Albert has a checkered past, which includes a jail sentence for killing a man in 1994, and how Albert intends on offering false testimony in the Karen Read case to shield his son and brother from being held responsible for their crimes. The complaint alleges that the police are attempting to intimidate the plaintiffs from protesting against Albert’s perceived perjury.
The complaint goes on to explain how Turtleboy is a well known journalist who has already been charged with the crimes that CPD is threatening to arrest the plaintiffs for. This completely reasonable fear of being arrested has created a chilling effect, and consequently a protest scheduled for Sunday has been cancelled.
On a personal note, I do not want to see anyone else get arrested. This battle will be fought in court, and we will win because the First Amendment is behind us. There is no need for anyone else to get caught up in the legal mess that I’m in.
Randazza’s complaint goes on to point out that there is widespread public interest in the Karen Read case, and how Rafferty threatened to weaponize the witness intimidation statute at the August 8 Board of Selectmen meeting.
The complaint goes on to explain how Rafferty’s statement that CPD “cannot accept” legally protected First Amendment activities, and how CPD told one of the plaintiffs that there is an open investigation into them, has created a chilling effect and a threat to their safety.
The pieces of paper with the statute on it were already printed out, indicating that Rafferty had made plans to ban any protesters who appeared in town. Turtleboy was just the test case.
The Canton Police, under the direction of Chief Rafferty, violated the First Amendment rights of the protesters by threatening to arrest them for constitutionally protected speech.
As Randazza pointed out, if the protesters were holding signs that said, “We support you Chris Albert,” then the police would not have been called and there would be no threat of arrest.
The bigger problem, as we have seen in my case, is that the witness intimidation statute (13A and 13B) is unconstitutional, because it allows corrupt institutions like the Canton Police Department to weaponize the vaguely worded law in order to suppress the First Amendment.
O’Brien vs. Borowski set the standard that all speech is protected unless it contains true threats or fighting words, but the witness intimidation statute ignores that. In theory, if a “witness” like Chris Albert confessed to a Catholic priest that he had been lying about his son’s involvement in a murder, and that priest urged Albert as part of his repentance to change his testimony so that it was truthful, the priest would be guilty of witness intimidation.
Randazza is now seeking an injunction from the federal court to prevent the Canton Police from intimidating peaceful protesters outside of D&E Pizza. He is also asking for a declaration from a federal judge, essentially ruling that the entire statute is unconstitutional.
If the judge rules in the plaintiffs’ favor it could potentially be very beneficial to the defense in Commonwealth vs. Turtleboy. If the law itself is ruled to be unconstitutional, then it means that I could not be charged with violating that law.