Left-wing activists denounced the Massachusetts State Police on Saturday after law enforcement inadvertently shared evidence of authorities monitoring anti-Trump protests.
Members of the Coalition to Organize and Mobilize Boston Against Trump, or COMBAT — a group that formed following the 2016 U.S. presidential election but dormant since last November — issued a statement condemning “police surveillance of the left” in response to seeing a link to their inactive Facebook page appear in the “bookmarks” toolbar of a web browser window displayed in a photographed shared by the MSP on Twitter this week.
“The fact that state police, who are funded by our tax dollars, are spending time monitoring groups on Facebook who oppose racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic violence instead of those groups who perpetuate such violence is abhorrent and should be examined with scrutiny,” its members said in Facebook post.
“Though COMBAT has no current plans to reactivate, our former members remain steadfast in our opposition to this violence that is often perpetuated by the police force themselves. We are deeply disconcerted about police surveillance of the left in Boston, as this exists within the historical context of state surveillance and repression of organizations fighting for social justice,” the post said.
In a since-deleted tweet Thursday, the MSP shared an image of a web browser opened to a map of the region affected by the rash of fires and explosions that ravaged parts of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. The image also revealed the titles of a dozen bookmarked websites, however, including the Facebook pages for activist groups including COMBAT and Mass Action Against Police Brutality, as well as a “Resistance Calendar” page devoted to spreading details on anti-Trump protests, spurring uproar among activists.
“We do not collect information about — nor, frankly, do we care about — any group’s beliefs or opinions.” MPS spokesman David Procopio said in a statement Friday. “We, obviously, need to know if large numbers of people, for whatever reason, are going to be on public roadways or public spaces, so that we may ensure the safety and rights of those who have gathered as well as of the members of the public around them. That is a common – and common-sense – function of any police department.”
At least one person died after dozens were injured Thursday as a result of a spate of explosions and fires in parts of Merrimack Valley. The incident remains under investigation.