Pro-Busing Groups File Suit, Say ROAR, Police Conspired

Members of two pro-busing groups last week filed a $1 million class-action suit charging that state officials, members of the Boston Police Department, and an anti-busing group conspired to violate their civil rights.

Members of the two groups were arrested in connection with pro-busing demonstrations earlier this year.

The suit, filed last Thursday by members of the Committee Against Racism (CAR) and the Progressive Labor Party (PLP); named as defendants Massachusetts Attorney General Francis X. Bellotti, Boston Mayor Kevin White, Boston Police Commissioner Robert DiGrazia and seven members of Restore Our Alienated Rights (ROAR).

Besides compensatory damages of $250,000 and punitive damages of $750,000, the suit asks that records of the plaintiffs' arrests be destroyed and that the arrests themselves be declared "null and void" in order to allow all those arrested "to assert that he or she has not been 'arrested' within the reasonable and lawful meaning of the term."

The suit specifically charges violations of the rights of freedom of speech, peaceable assembly, immunity from "unreasonable searches and seizures," and other constitutional rights.

Jeffrey Kovner, attorney for the CAR and PLP, said yesterday that the suit named White because "he's responsible for the actions of all municipal employees acting in their official capacities."

White could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Bellotti said yesterday he did not know that he had been named in the suit. "I have not been served and I might very well be a nominal defendant," he said.

Neither he nor has staff violated anyone's rights, he said.

The suit also asks for an injunction to prevent further violations of the constitutional rights of the pro-busing groups.