TRAVEL WARNING: BEWARE OF LPD
Lawrence mayor encourages police to attack travelers
BY MAYA SHAFFER OF CRITICAL-MA @CRITICALMANEWS
The following rant was posted on Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera’s Facebook page on March 11. It was removed soon after, but not before we took a screen grab:
THE VIDEO IS NOT WHAT IT APPEARS TO BE: Many people have posted a video of a Police interaction with some people in a mini van on my page. At first glance I had the same reaction as many people are having. It appeared as if Police officers were running a muck [sic]. However now having some more information, the situation is clearer. This is not a mini van full of young Lawrence Latino kids going home from the boys club or heading home after a day of studying at the library. This is a minivan full of people at 2 am, that are not from our community that had been circling the neighborhood at Oxford & Lowell st. to buy drugs. The police stopped them before they could buy their drugs. A mini van with tinted windows and New Hampshire plates. Despite what the person who posted the video says the intersection of Oxford & Lowell Streets is not a short cut to Methuen or New Hampshire. They were their [sic] to buy drugs. The number one vehicle used to transport stolen rims in our City ate [sic] minivans. So the police are looking for strange mini-vans traveling late at night. Yes the Police officer got heated. When I hear from neighbors that I need to stop people from buying and selling drugs in their neighborhood, and that yet another car’s rims were stolen I get heated too. With the number of drug killings that we have had in our City everyone is on edge. I will not give our police officers mixed messages. If you are in Lawrence trying allegedly to buy drugs and you do not cooperate with police you will not be treated hospitably. We do want them to pull over cars that fit this description that commit traffic violations. I will make the police report available as soon as I can so you can see for yourself. But, PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN LAWRENCE should know that our police are doing what you want, making people who do not live in Lawrence uncomfortable to buy or sell drugs in our City. It will not always be pretty (as the video shows) but it is necessary to let the outsiders know, they are not welcome. I know its [sic] election time so be careful of candidates that want to politicize our public safety they do not want to make you safer they are just trying to score political points. The video is not pretty but, not inappropriate. I would encourage anyone in that vehicle that thinks their rights were violated to take the City to court. So everyone can hear your story and the police officer’s in open court. We can all hear what occurred so that this transaction ended this way. LAWRENCE WILL NOT BE YOUR DRUG MALL ANY MORE.”
“It will not always be pretty (as the video shows) but it is necessary to let the outsiders know, they are not welcome.”
In his shocking March 11 post, Lawrence Mayor Rivera encouraged the Lawrence police to continue attacking people who drive through his city—especially if they do so in minivans. Rivera ranted on Facebook in support of his officers after a video of an encounter between a minivan full of people and Lawrence cops, from around midnight on March 10, drew concern from the community. Rivera’s bizarre drug-warrior rant gives the clear impression that it’s dangerous to visit or even pass through Lawrence.
The video shows that officers pulled Andrew McGratty out of a minivan then screamed obscenities at the remaining occupants of the vehicle. The people in the minivan were from New Hampshire and were, police allege, driving around in a high-crime neighborhood. They also allege that the vehicle failed to signal at a turn.
Just before McGratty was extracted from the minivan, one of the car’s occupants began recording the interaction. McGratty was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, and says he plans to sue.
These revelations shouldn’t be a shocker. This is the third video in recent memory depicting Lawrence cops acting rabid. In 2015, LPD officers attacked a man for recording them while he walked down the street, and last summer they drew their firearms on, and violently arrested, a man who asked a police officer to provide ID during a traffic stop.
Instead of reining in his department after these insane displays of aggression, Rivera has pushed for more attacks and fear. In this latest case, McGratty was not charged with any drug-related offense, still Rivera claimed, “The police stopped them before they could buy their drugs.” Compounding that baseless accusation, the mayor added, “The number one vehicle used to transport stolen rims in our City [sic] ate [sic] minivans.”
These two accusations, which have nothing to do with the vehicle that was stopped or the man who arrested, serve as Rivera’s excuse for the behavior of his officers. “Yes the Police [sic] officer got heated,” he continued. “When I hear from neighbors that I need to stop people from buying and selling drugs in their neighborhood, and that yet another car’s rims were stolen I get heated too.”
He was heated indeed. Then came the less-than-ambiguous mandate for police to continue their attacks on travelers: “I will not give our police officers mixed messages. If you are in Lawrence trying allegedly to buy drugs and you do not cooperate with police you will not be treated hospitably … It will not always be pretty (as the video shows) but it is necessary to let the outsiders know, they are not welcome.”
Considering that this most recent case doesn’t officially involve drugs, Rivera is essentially ordering cops to attack random travelers. After the story made the news, Mayor Rivera told Fox 25 that he stood by his rant. Fox, unsurprisingly, neglected to report on the absurdity and outright hostility of the mayor’s call for violence.
Lawrence police are dangerous. There are multiple videos of their officers attacking people for little or no reason. And due to Mayor Rivera’s recent orders, Critical-MA is issuing a travel warning to everyone. If you must travel through this lawless area, we suggest documenting all interactions with police by livestreaming from a device held in plain sight for your own safety.
This column was produced in collaboration with the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. Find out how you can support independent media in New England at binjonline.org.