Friday, December 7, 2007

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Pete Lowney, the local "anti-Zionist" activist who frequently shows up masked (scroll down) to protest events went a step too far when he recorded a police officer against his wishes. Universal Hub has an in-depth report. Lowney and David Rolde are the dynamic dumbos of the local activist scene, and are no strangers (particularly Lowney) to confrontations with the police. According to the DA's press release, "an apparent ally [Jeffrey D. Manzelli] now also faces charges for allegedly threatening police witnesses in the case."

The press release is in the extended entry.



BOSTON, Dec. 7, 2007—A Newton man who staged a 2006 protest at Boston University was found guilty under the Massachusetts wiretapping statute this week for video recording a university police officer who responded to the scene and explicitly told him to stop taping, and an apparent ally now also faces charges for allegedly threatening police witnesses in the case.

A Brighton District Court jury on Wednesday found that 36-year-old PETER LOWNEY (D.O.B. 2/9/70) violated the state laws against recording another individual’s oral communications without his or her consent when Lowney recorded the Boston University Police sergeant even after that sergeant instructed to him to stop taping. The incident transpired on Dec. 5, 2006, outside a lecture on present-day issues in Sudan at 871 Commonwealth Ave.

District Court Judge Robert Tochka sentenced Lowney to six months of probation and a $500 fine, further ordering that he have no contact with the arresting officer and that he remove from the Internet any video
files related to the case.

Boston University Police first responded to the scene at about 7:00 p.m. after receiving calls that two protesters were blocking the sidewalk with a 4’ by 8’ cloth sign. One of the men, Lowney, was also holding a Canon ZR600 Mini DV digital camcorder in his hand and began recording when the officer arrived. The officer told Lowney to stop recording, informed the two individuals that they could not block the entrance to the building, and instructed them to move their sign. Lowney placed the recording device in his coat pocket and the two men moved out of the doorway but continued to block the path of pedestrians.

While the officer was speaking with the other protester, Lowney kept his camcorder hidden but continued to record the conversation. Upon noticing that the defendant was secreting something in his coat pocket, the officer asked if he was being recorded. When Lowney failed to respond, the officer reached into the defendant’s pocket and retrieved the device, which was in record mode.

Lowney was arrested at this point and charged under Ch. 272, Sect. 99 (C), of the Massachusetts General Laws for concealing a device used to record the officer’s voice without his consent. The statute, which governs wiretaps and other communication interception devices, forbids such recording even by members of law enforcement without judicial authorization on the grounds that the "unrestricted use of modern electronic surveillance devices poses grave dangers to the privacy of all citizens." The statute further orders that "the secret use of such devices by private individuals must be prohibited."

Officers also charged Lowney with disorderly conduct for refusing to move away from the building; the court ruled that the evidence did not support that latter charge.

Boston University Police turned Lowney’s camcorder and its saved contents over to Suffolk prosecutors, who in turn provided them to defense counsel as part of discovery. During Lowney’s two-day jury trial, evidence emerged that a copy of the video – which was available only to prosecutors and the defense – had appeared on a video-sharing website.

As Lowney’s trial was set to begin in early November, the arresting officer began to receive vulgar and threatening voice messages at his home phone number. Other law enforcement officials received similar calls, as did the president of Boston University, who on Nov. 7 received on his office voice mail a number of messages in which the caller stated, "I’m on your ass, buddy. You people are [expletive] fascist. Fascist should be [expletive] slit in the throat. Do you understand what I am saying to you? You are a [expletive] fascist."

In a subsequent message, the same caller identified himself as JEFFREY D. MANZELLI (D.O.B. 6/2/63) and provided a contact phone number. That information led authorities to summons the 44-year-old Medford resident to Brighton District Court, where he was arraigned Nov. 29 on three counts of witness intimidation. Manzelli was represented by attorney Terrance Stone and is expected to return to court on Jan. 11.

In light of the messages, District Court Judge David T. Donnelley postponed Lowney’s trial and informed Lowney that he would revoke Lowney’s bail if any individuals made any further calls on his behalf to police, prosecutors, or witnesses in the case.

No further calls were received, and Lowney went to trial on Dec. 4. Evidence was presented the next day as well, and the six-person jury returned its verdict late Wednesday. Lowney was represented by attorney Beverly Chorbajian.

"Syme: It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You wouldn't have seen the [Newspeak] Dictionary 10th edition, would you Smith? It's that thick. [illustrates thickness with fingers] The 11th Edition will be that [narrows fingers] thick. Winston Smith: So, The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect? Syme: The secret is to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from here [the larynx], not from here [the brain]" -1984 (film)


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