Lawyer sues Bos­ton of­fi­cials for 1st Amend­ment vi­o­la­tions

Boston Herald - - INSIDE TRACK - By BOB McGOVERN and DAN ATKINSON — bob.mcgovern@boston­her­ald.com

A self-styled Bernie San­ders progressive has hit city of­fi­cials with a law­suit for what he called “ex­treme vi­o­la­tions” of the First Amend­ment at this sum­mer’s Free Speech Rally — and he wants lo­cal au­thor­i­ties barred from re­peat­ing those al­leged ac­tions this week­end at an­other Bos­ton Com­mon event.

“I have never seen such ex­treme vi­o­la­tions of the First Amend­ment, and I don’t think there has been any­thing like it in decades,” said Ri­naldo Del Gallo, the at­tor­ney and for­mer state Se­nate can­di­date from Pitts­field who brought the suit. “If mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are al­lowed to act like this, you can kiss the First Amend­ment good­bye.”

He ar­gues in the fed­eral civil suit that Bos­ton of­fi­cials pre­vented him from speak­ing at the Aug. 19 Free Speech Rally, that peo­ple weren’t al­lowed near the Park­man Band­stand to hear the speak­ers, and that event or­ga­niz­ers weren’t al­lowed to use “suf­fi­cient am­pli­fi­ca­tion” to have their voices heard.

He added that the me­dia was im­prop­erly barred from the band­stand.

Del Gallo filed the suit against Mayor Martin J. Walsh, po­lice Com­mis­sioner Wil­liam B. Evans, Parks and Re­cre­ation Depart­ment Com­mis­sioner Christo­pher Cook and sev­eral un­named po­lice of­fi­cers last week.

He is ask­ing for $500 mil­lion for what he called “un­prece­dented” free-speech vi­o­la­tions.

“We just want it to be known that the dam­ages here were se­ri­ous,” he said. “These were ridicu­lous mea­sures to squash free speech, and we don’t want the city to do this again. This can’t be a slap on the wrist.”

He is also ask­ing that a fed­eral judge block au­thor­i­ties from in­ter­fer­ing with the “Rally for the Repub­lic” — an event run by the Re­sist Marx­ism group, which is sched­uled for Satur­day af­ter­noon at the Park­man Band­stand on the Bos­ton Com­mon.

The city and po­lice de­clined to com­ment on the on­go­ing lit­i­ga­tion.

At a press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day at City Hall, or­ga­niz­ers of the rally said they will also file suit against the city if of­fi­cials at­tempt to shut down the gath­er­ing, which was not granted a per­mit.

“If a pa­tri­otic group such as ours con­tin­ues to be dis­crim­i­nated against by the city, we are pre­pared to take le­gal ac­tion,” said John Med­lar, an or­ga­nizer of the Re­sist Marx­ism rally. “The mayor can ex­plain to his con­stituents why tax­payer money is be­ing used to pay for law­suits.”

Bos­ton po­lice spokesman Lt. Det. Michael McCarthy said lo­cal au­thor­i­ties have been in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with “all par­ties who are planning events this week­end.”

“We will have ad­e­quate re­sources in place to en­sure the safety of all those at­tend­ing the events,” he said, in an email. “We do not an­tic­i­pate any is­sues with crowd size or planned events hap­pen­ing this week­end.”

Del Gallo is sep­a­rately rep­re­sent­ing Bran­don Navom, a Free Speech Rally or­ga­nizer, in a civil defama­tion suit against Walsh.

The state law­suit ac­cuses the mayor of ly­ing for char­ac­ter­iz­ing the event or­ga­niz­ers as “white su­prem­a­cists.”

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