We spoke with ACLU of Massachusetts Legal Director Matthew Segal today about the events in Boston this week, including the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday and the ensuing manhunt that ended in a bloody climax Friday night in Watertown, Massachusetts.
In an unprecedented move, the Boston police department essentially instituted martial law as part of its manhunt. The entire city was shut down, with all residents being asked to stay in their homes after the shooting of an MIT campus police officer on Wednesday night. The shooting was allegedly committed by one of the Tsaernev brothers, who are accused of executing the marathon bombing. (Tamerlan Tsaernev, 26 years of age, was killed in a shootout with police Wednesday night; his brother Dzhokar Tsaernev, only 19, fled the scene of the shootout and was captured Friday night after being shot multiple times by police while hiding in a boat parked at a residence in Watertown.)
“Sorry man, I don’t have much time to talk,” Segal said, as he hurriedly packed legal documents and personal possessions from his office in Boston.
“Did you see what happened this week?! It was like Baghdad. We had officers with assault rifles rolling down the streets in military vehicles!”
Since the infamous World Trade Center bombings of September 11, 2001, there has been a massive increase in government power and corresponding decrease in personal freedoms and individual constitutional guarantees. Many civil liberties advocates, including journalists, political activists, the ACLU, and others, have fought against this trend to no avail. Myriad government abuses of power, such as domestic spying without warrants, indefinite detention of criminal suspects, and presidential war-making without legal justification, have proliferated under successive Bush and Obama administrations.
“Look, we’ve done what we can,” Segal said. “The courts have ruled against us at almost every turn. There’s literally nothing the government can’t get away with. They didn’t even Mirandize that guy last night. My advice: run for your lives! Get the hell out of here while you still can.”
Regarding his plans for the future, he said, “I’m going totally off-grid. You’ll never see or hear from me again.”
When asked if he was going to leave the U.S., Segal responded, “None of your goddamn business.”