Police advisory: ‘Potential Disruption of the 2021 Boston Marathon’

BOSTON — Police are investigating a potential planned “disruption” to the 2021 Boston Marathon in protest of the event coinciding with Indigenous Peoples Day, according to a law enforcement advisory.

“We have received uncorroborated intelligence indicating that people may attempt to disrupt the 2021 Boston Marathon with nonviolent direct action in support of Indigenous Peoples’ concerns,” the Joint Situational Awareness Bulletin reads. “The 2021 Boston Marathon is being held on Indigenous Peoples’ day and some believe that marathon organizers have not taken enough steps to recognize the holiday or indigenous communities.”

Boston Mayor Kim Janey this week signed an executive order replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, a change other local communities have also made.

The advisory, issued Friday by Boston Police Department’s Boston Regional Intelligence Center and Mass. State Police Department’s Commonwealth Fusion Center, states that the protest would likely involve the “sleeping dragon” tactic on the marathon course.

“This tactic typically consists of a group of individuals chained and/or handcuffed together through a length of pipe, which prevents law enforcement from simply using bolt cutters to break the chains,” the bulletin reads. “There are numerous variations including covering the pipe with difficult to cut materials and/or putting the PVC pipe through a barrel filled with concrete so that authorities must break the concrete before cutting the pipe.”

Climate change protestors carried out a similar protest, chaining themselves to a boat outside Gov. Charlie Baker’s Swampscott home last month.

On Sunday, Jean-Luc Pierite, president of the North American Indian Center of Boston, and Mahtowin Munro, co-leader of United American Indians of New England (UAINE) and the statewide Indigenous Peoples Day campaign in Massachusetts, issued the following statement on the matter:

“It has come to our attention that various police agencies have released a public alert saying in part that “Police are investigating a potential planned ‘disruption’ to the 2021 Boston Marathon in protest of the event coinciding with Indigenous Peoples Day. Police have received uncorroborated intelligence indicating that people may attempt to disrupt the 2021 Boston Marathon... and that some believe that marathon organizers have not taken enough steps to recognize the holiday or indigenous communities.” Some Fox media outlets have put that out as a new story,” the statement said.

“According to Jean-Luc Pierite, President of the North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB). “We are not aware of any such plans, and no one has consulted in this regard. We feel concerned that this may lead to profiling by police of Indigenous people who are running or attending the Boston Marathon and may also lead to targeted harassment of Indigenous people there by spectators. NAICOB is not involved with any investigations,” the statement said.

“Mahtowin Munro, co-leader of United American Indians of New England (UAINE) and the statewide Indigenous Peoples Day campaign in MA, said “At a time when communities across the state are celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day, at a time when our Indigenous community in the Boston metropolitan area just had a beautiful and peaceful march of several hundred people on October 9, it’s unfortunate that such an alert would be issued when it is based on what law enforcement admits is uncorroborated information,” the statement said. “During Saturday’s Boston march, we made our demands known, none of which involved the BAA or the Boston Marathon. We are troubled that these reports may be arising in an attempt to inflame anti-Indigenous sentiment and somehow paint us as criminals or terrorists, given that the reports are supposedly coming from the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) and the Commonwealth Fusion Center.”

Dan Linskey, Boston 25 News security expert and former Boston Police Superintendent-in-Chief, says police investigating this disruption would not only be on the lookout for suspicious activities or items, they would also be planning for how to remove the protesters.

“You need to have a plan, should they be able to deploy and go across the race route with these sleeping dragons. There are professionally trained teams in both the fire and police department that can mitigate devices. They take a while to do so,” Linskey said. “But you can also have alternative means. So, if you’ve got protestors that are hooked up and you can’t cut them apart, could you use resources to pick them up, put them on a dolly and slide them off to the side of the road where they’re out of the way of the runners?”

The bulletin advises officers to “please be on the lookout for pre-staged or spectators carrying unusual items such as lengths of pipe (PVC or other), chains, handcuffs, carabiners, bags of quick set concrete, and/or buckets filled with concrete.”

Linskey urged the general public, too, to be on the lookout for suspicious activity and report it to police.

The former chief said he hopes nothing gets in the way of the significance of the event since the marathon bombings in 2013.

“The marathon is a special event, and it’s been ever special since 2013. It’s taken on a lot of meaning for our victims, our community,” Linskey said. “And while I understand the concern that groups have and the timing of the event, wouldn’t it be a shame if we did anything to dishonor the victims who were lost in the 2013 marathon or who have been such champions in showing us such class and resiliency as they recover from those wounds and move forward with their lives?”

The Boston Athletic Association apologized in August for scheduling the marathon on the same day as the holiday.

“In selecting the fall date for the Boston Marathon, the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) in no way wanted to take away from Indigenous Peoples’ Day or celebrations for the Indigenous and Native American Community,” the non-profit said in a statement. “We extend our sincere apologies to all Indigenous people who have felt unheard or feared the importance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day would be erased. We are sorry.”

The organization has been working with the Federal and State Recognized Tribes to honor and celebrate Indigenous people as part of the marathon and related events.

Asked about the possible protest, the BAA referred Boston 25 News to State Police. State and local police did not return Boston 25 News’s calls regarding the bulletin.

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