Privacy SOS

Could the Olympic ‘security’ zone encompass the entire City of Boston?

Photo: Gabe Camacho

Despite an open public records request seeking Boston's full Olympic bid and other documents related to the 2024 games held by Mayor Marty Walsh's office, the full proposal remains secret from the public. But in response to public demands for transparency, the private group behind the Olympic push held a press conference at which it unveiled some details about the bid. Notably, the budget remains secret.

Among the things the public learned from Boston 2024's selective presentation of its bid is the following, as written by the New York Times:

Of the 33 venues for the Games, 28 would be within a 10-kilometer radius, or a little more than six miles, in effect making Boston itself the Olympic Park.

A few weeks ago, the Guardian published a piece I co-wrote with ACLU of Massachusetts executive director Carol Rose, warning about civil liberties and rights violations likely to befall Boston if the games come to town. One of the things we warned about is that the area encompassing the Olympic village would be designated a "National Security Special Event" zone, where law abiding citizens are likely to lose a host of constitutional rights. According to the New York Times, that no-rights zone might well extend throughout the entire city and beyond, into Cambridge and other surrounding towns.

There's been plenty of talk about the colossal amount of money the government would spend on surveillance and policing for a 2024 games in Boston. Those measures are expected to cost over one billion dollars. But despite this extreme proposal, it appears as if we at the ACLU are among the only ones talking loudly about how such a massive expenditure on police and spy technologies will impact constitutional rights and liberties in our city and region. It's past time to get talking about these issues, particularly if the "special security" zone is going to encompass our homes, businesses, and communities, as the Times reports.

We have enough problems with unequal justice. Let's not let the Olympic bid make things worse.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.