The Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project
138 Chandler Street, Number Four
Boston, Massachusetts 02116
July 17, 2007
Ms. Sharon Lynn
Provincetown City Hall, 260 Commercial Street
Mr. Warren Tobias
Acting Police Chief, Provincetown Police Department
26 Shankpainter Road
Provincetown, MA 02657
Dear Ms. Lynn and Chief Tobias:
The Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project was deeply concerned to learn of the use of force in the arrest of Barry Scott on July 15, 2007, which caused him bodily injury. It is difficult to reconcile the degree of injury Mr. Scott suffered with any explanation consistent with the reasonable use of force, particularly in view of Mr. Scott?s physical size. However, what is known at this point does not allow for any conclusions to be drawn: apparently there are a number of witnesses yet to give statements, as well as, I am told, potential videos or photos of the arrest scene. Based on what we know now, we are requesting that the Town of Provincetown and the Provincetown Police Department launch a formal investigation into the use of force against the person of Mr. Scott, to assess whether there is culpability in the conduct that caused his regrettable injuries.
We find a number of legal issues that might arise over the physical force applied to Mr. Scott resulting in his injuries. First, the question of excessive use of force needs to be considered, in relation to potential violations of Police Department policies. Moreover, given the bodily injury suffered by Mr. Scott, the question of potential civil rights violations within the meaning of G.L. c. 265, § 37 arises. Furthermore, we strongly feel that the question of the motive behind the conduct causing Mr. Scott?s injuries is a serious one. While I do not know the full facts?obviously?there are relevant bias indicators that may well apply in the circumstances. If there is found to be evidence of a prohibited motive for an assault and battery causing bodily injury, G.L. c. 265, § 39 would come into play. Additionally Provincetown must decide whether the police conduct in question should be classified as a hate crime for purposes of the Hate Crimes Reporting Act of 1990, G.L. c. 22C, § 32 et seq. The law calls for all hate crime episodes to be reported to the State Police, which compiles the data to send to the FBI. The implementing regulations issued by the Executive Office of Public Safety, 501 CMR 4.01 et seq. help structure the relevant line of inquiry in making the determination about hate motivation, by enumerating the various bias indicators that serve as evidence of motive. Consider that it is not necessary that hate crimes be evidenced by the perpetrators? use of epithets during an attack. Other bias indicators offer ways of identifying motive that assailants might seek to conceal with a sophisticated avoidance of hate language. Hate crime perpetrators cannot be allowed to get away with throwing their fists by holding their tongues.
I hasten to add that our organization is not making any accusations against anyone. But the troubling question of the arresting officer?s conduct in the course of injuring Mr. Scott needs to be investigated, in the interest of justice and fair play. We entreat that the investigation be thorough, fair, and impartial. If violations of Police Department disciplinary rules took place, appropriate action should follow.
I would be happy to discuss our concerns at greater length if you like. I can be reached at email@example.com. The Anti-Violence Project would also be available to cooperate in and support Provincetown?s ongoing efforts to counter hate-motivated violence and protect civil rights. In my former capacity as Co-Chair of the Governor?s Task Force on Hate Crimes, I worked closely with former Town Manager Keith Bergman and former Police Chief Robert Anthony to help implement the Hate Crimes Reporting Act. Provincetown was given a Gubernatorial Citation by former Governor Weld in recognition of the outstanding strides it had made in preventing and responding to hate crimes.
Given Provincetown?s reputation for tolerance and respect for civil rights, I have every confidence that this matter will be addressed fairly and effectively. I hope to be of assistance to you in the future.
The Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project