Warrantless bag searches become ubiquitous for Boston subway, bus travelers

Transit police conducting a warrantless checkpoint in Boston. (Source: Bay State Examiner / YouTube)
Transit police conducting a warrantless checkpoint in Boston.  (Source: Bay State Examiner / YouTube)
Transit police conducting a warrantless checkpoint in Boston. (Source: Bay State Examiner / YouTube)

BOSTON, MA — Warrantless bag searches at have become commonplace at travel checkpoints in Boston as concerns for Homeland Security have overridden citizens’ right to be free of unreasonable searches.  Travelers are forced to “security inspections” of their handbags, briefcases, and other personal possessions.

Large signs indicate that public spaces under the authority of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) are void of privacy rights.  The first bullet point on one of the signs displayed the following:

For the protection and the security of the riding public, all persons choosing to use the MBTA transit system will be subject to security inspections of their handbags, briefcases, and/or other carry on items.

The signage goes on to claim that all persons will be stopped and searched and that declining a search will result in an order to leave the station.  Those who object will be arrested and charged with trespassing — on public property — which could result in a $100 fine and up to 30 days in jail.

A handout indicates "MBTA property" to be a 4th Amendment Free Zone.  (Source: Bay State Examiner)
A handout indicates “MBTA property” to be a 4th Amendment Free Zone. (Source: Bay State Examiner)

The Bay State Examiner published a video of one of the checkpoints, located in the Chinatown area, which was staffed by approximately half a dozen armed, badge-carrying checkpoint officers.  Individuals from a group called “Defend the 4th” [Amendment] entered the subway station and asked the officers a few questions.

When an individual asked the checkpoint sentries whether they had warrants to conduct any of the bag searches, the leader grew annoyed and insisted that searching bags was legal and had been accepted as legal by the SJC (Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts).  The officer then insisted he citizens move along or leave the station — located on public property.

Of course the courts have upheld warrantless searches in public; no one ever believed that a police state could be erected without the complicity of all three branches of government.  The courts have tolerated a constant erosion of essential rights for a long time.  The enforcers bypass critical questions about their oaths by passing off their constitutional responsibilities to another branch of government.

But we must ask, if the 4th Amendment isn’t applicable on public property, where is it applicable?

A sign in a Boston metro warns travelers that they have no rights on public property. (Source: Bay State Examiner / YouTube)
A sign in a Boston metro warns travelers that they have no rights on public property. (Source: Bay State Examiner / YouTube)

The signs and the literature explain that the checkpoints have been installed because of concerns raised by Department of Homeland Security.  Searching purses and luggage is the government’s solution to combating terrorism.

Yet isn’t the subversion of liberty exactly what a true terrorist would wish upon his enemies?  Isn’t the existence of checkpoints across the USA an indication that the “terrorists” have won?

And what effectiveness do these checkpoints have at stopping an attack?  Would any committed terrorist be imbecilic enough to walk up to a bunch of cops in yellow vests and hand over evidence that would lead to his conviction? 

Here is the video of the Boston checkpoint for “Defend the 4th”:

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Writer, editor, political activist and liberty advocate. PSUSA has been exposing the police state since 2010 and never runs out of material.