Brutality in the Boston Area

Date: Mon, 8 Jan 1996 02:42:28 -0800 (PST)
From: Declan McCullagh 
I'm passing this along since it's an (unfortunately) excellent example of police brutality and law enforcement hysteria over "child pornography." Bob Chatelle assures me that it's an accurate rendering of events.

If the "liberal" Cambridge cops will abuse and choke a mother in front of her child, I suspect the punishment other police departments mete out to those they suspect of "trading child porn" online will be far worse.

Take those baby pictures off of your web pages, folks.


PS: Please redistribute.

// // My opinions are not in any way those of the EFF //





On November 2, 1995, Toni Marie Angeli was arrested at Zona Photographic Labs on Rodgers Street in Cambridge, ostensibly for child pornography. She has yet to be charged with this crime. Instead, she has been charged with being disorderly; assault and battery with a dangerous weapon--here, a lamp; and the malicious destruction of property. These charges stem from conduct attributed to her after the police told her they were going to take her 4 year old son away from her and were arresting her due to content of photographs she took of her son for a photography course at Harvard University. She was handcuffed, beaten, and choked by the police in front of her son before being taken away.

Ms. Angeli is a student enrolled in the Introduction to Photography course taught by Professor John Leuders-Booth at Harvard University. On October 19, 1995, Ms. Angeli spoke with Professor Leuders-Booth about doing a study of the innocence of a child's nudity for her final class project. As a result of that discussion, Ms. Angeli decided to have her son Nico D'Ancona be the subject of her project.

On October 24 and 25, 1995 Ms. Angeli took a 36 shot roll of film of her family, the first eight of which were intended to develop the theme of her artistic project. The first series of shots was taken shortly after her son got out of the bathtub while he was playing with his father. The remainder of the roll are family photos and pictures of her son and a playmate outdoors. Some of those shots are of her son "peeing" outdoors. On Thursday, October 26, Ms. Angeli dropped off her roll of film and her husband Luke D'Ancona's slides to be processed and picked up the following day, Friday, October 27. On Friday morning, however, an employee from Zona phoned Ms. Angeli's home and told her husband that the negatives could not be picked up until Monday due to a problem with the machinery used to develop negatives. Ms. Angeli returned to Zona with her husband and son the following Thursday, November 2, to retrieve her negatives before her class met that evening. The clerk handed over her husband's slides immediately and insisted that they be paid for at that time. When Ms. Angeli tried to pick up her negatives, she was stalled by Zona employees who at first went to look for them and then began concocting stories about why they didn't have them. Clerk Morgan Segal told them that they were "still having trouble with the machine." Another employee, a young, red-haired clerk, told her that he couldn't locate them because "everything is all mixed up in boxes and out boxes are in disarray."

After much delay, two plainclothed police officers arrived-- a white officer, now known to be detective S. Ferriera, #273, and a black officer, now believed to be Detective W. Phillips, both of the Cambridge Police Department. Detective Phillips approached Mr. D'Ancona, who was looking at his slides on a light board, and told Mr. D'Ancona that he and his partner were "investigating a crime." Detective Ferriera approached Ms. Angeli and began asking her questions. Ms. Angeli had no idea why the police were at Zona and did not imagine that she was the suspect of this "crime." During this time, Detective Phillips began rifling through Mr. D'Ancona's slides. Mr. D'Ancona questioned the police's right to do this, protesting "hey, you know, you can't really look through my slides." Detective Phillips replied, "Yes, I can." He further informed Mr. D'Ancona that he was "investigating the crime of pornography."

When Ms. Angeli, holding her son who had just awoken from a nap, asked the officers what the investigation had to do with them, she was met with silence. After listening to the police's line of questioning, it dawned on her that her negatives were at the heart of the "investigation." She laughed. She stated that she was the child's mother and that the boy in the photographs was the child in her arms. She told the police that she was taking a photography course at Harvard. She asked them to call her professor. She laughed again. Detective Phillips sternly said "a crime has been committed here." Ms. Angeli said "that's ridiculous, why don't you just call my professor?" She turned and walked to the clerks at the counter, demanding to know where her negatives were.

Detective Phillips then approached her, grabbed her arm, and wheeled her around. He told her that if she did not cooperate with their investigation he could take her child away from her. This threat was made while her son Nico was in her arms. Hearing the threat, Nico began clutching his mother. Ms. Angeli, at that point, ceased to be polite. She said, "Haven't you something better to do with your time? Why don't you go to the schoolyard and find some crack dealers?" Detective Phillips told her that he had already notified the Department of Social Services and, putting his finger in her face said, "if you don't cooperate, I will take that kid away from you on the spot." Ms. Angeli thereupon told her husband to take the baby and gave her son to him. She asked Detective Phillips, "if you think I am a child pornographer and such a menace to my son and society, why don't you just arrest me now?" Detective Phillips said "I will" and handcuffed her. By this time, other patrons had entered the store and were beginning to get uncomfortable. Ms. Angeli's husband began talking to them, telling them to take their business elsewhere. Detective Phillips immediately tried to drag her away from public view. During the ensuing struggle to get Ms. Angeli into a back room a lamp on the counter was knocked over. Clerk Morgan Segal, who was standing nearby, caught the lamp and kept it from falling to the floor. As the detectives dragged Ms. Angeli through a door to a back room at Zona, two tennis-ball sized holes were made in the hollow door core and a framed photograph fell from the wall adjacent to the door. This series of events, occurring after the detectives' threats to take away her four year old son and after she was handcuffed, form the basis for the current criminal charges against Ms. Angeli.

As Ms. Angeli, screaming for her son, was manhandled to the back, Detective Phillips, presumably to quiet her down, took Ms. Angeli's head and slammed it into the door jamb. Stunned and quiet, she remained in the back, separated from her husband and child. When her head cleared, she again loudly asked for her son. Detective Phillips returned to the back room where Ms. Angeli was being held by a female police officer and again threatened to take her child away if she didn't be quiet. The female officer, who held Ms. Angeli by the handcuffs behind her back, began pulling up on them and Ms. Angeli screamed to her husband "Luke they are breaking my arms." Detective Phillips approached Ms. Angeli and put his hands around her neck and began to choke her. Hearing the ongoing struggle, her husband rushed into the back room and told the detectives to leave Ms. Angeli alone. Policemen tackled her husband to the ground. Nico, Ms. Angeli's son, followed his father into the back room and saw his mother being choked, and his father on the ground with the police on top of him and began screaming at the top of his lungs. At that point Morgan Segal, the clerk who had lied to Ms. Angeli, grabbed Nico and ran with him out of the lab. Ms. Angeli, from that point onward, screamed uncontrollably until the police took her husband out and allowed him to confirm to Ms. Angeli that Nico was safely in his care again.

Despite her requests to say goodbye to her son the police refused. They escorted Ms. Angeli past her son and out to a police van which took her to the Cambridge Police Station. Ms. Angeli remained in police custody for several hours until a bail bondsman arrived and her husband was allowed to bail her out.