Say No to Vaccine Passports
The Libertarian Party opposes 'vaccine passports' and any government mandated documentation, surveillance, restrictions, mandates, or laws which tread on the rights of the people.
With vaccination progressing across the US and internationally, there is a growing danger that 'vaccine passports' of some type will become reality. As the Washington Post reported last week, "the Biden administration and private companies are working to develop a standard way of handling credentials — often referred to as 'vaccine passports' — that would allow Americans to prove they have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus as businesses try to reopen" and Reason.com had a long list of efforts to establish some form of 'vaccine passport'.
After a year of ever expanding government overreach justified by the Covid Pandemic, and which the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts opposes, 'vaccine passports' are among the most dystopian measures to be added. They represent egregious violations of privacy and are nothing less than an attempt to establish mandatory vaccination by restricting the lives of non-vaccinated persons, regardless of any actual infection and risk of spread. This is a power the government should not have.
The Libertarian Party at the National level, of which the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts is the local state affiliate, has adopted a resolution, rejecting vaccine passports. It states that the Libertarian National Committee stands in stark defiance of all attempts by government to interfere with the private sector response to COVID19 as well as the degradation of civil liberties and livelihood at the hands of legislators. We oppose vaccine passports and any government mandated documentation, surveillance, restrictions, mandates, or laws which tread on the rights of the people. We stand in service of those seeking freedom in the United States as the centrifugal force of liberty.
Vacate Drug Convictions
Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins recently announced the plan to vacate potentially tens of thousands of drug convictions in response to the Hinton State Laboratory scandal. Libertarians should applaud that move and push for other District Attorneys and the state to follow suite.
The Scandal, which started with an employee of the Massachusetts State's drug lab being caught falsifying evidence and that later expanded to another Massachusetts drug lab, has exposed systematic mismanagement and criminal negligence in the State's drug labs. In the views of many this can only be summarized as corruption - including the handling of the investigation itself. It has cast serious doubt on the trustworthiness of a drug-law enforcement system that affects tens of thousands of people in the Massachusetts.
Vacating drug convictions that involve evidence from a corrupt state lab however can only be a first step to address these issues. The lab scandal is just one example of many to show that the war on drugs is fraught with abuse and has lead to unjust incarceration, violence, and suffering. It has been used as a pretext for the militarization of police, including sometimes criminally irresponsible police tactics. It has pitted police against citizens in a way that is unfair to both. The War against Drugs has also been used to progressively undermine our basic freedoms including freedom of enterprise. It has also been utterly ineffective at achieving its supposed goal of combating drug use and has instead empowered dangerous criminal gangs.
It is time for Massachusetts to end its war on drugs and vacate all convictions for drug-related offenses that don't involve other, real crimes with actual victims. Further, Massachusetts should repeal all laws creating 'crimes' without victims, especially the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes. We need to end the government's attempts to control what people put in their bodies and fully decriminalize drug use (without prohibitive taxation). Instead of persecuting people for what they do with their own bodies, police should focus on protecting the American public from violent offenders and fraud.
To learn more about a pro-liberty approach to drug policy, see the position of the Libertarian Party at the national level.
LAMA State Convention 2021
On Saturday, March 20, 2021 the Libertarian Association of Massachusetts (also known as the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts) held its annual convention for 2021. The convention was held as a virtual event due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Dan Fishman graced us with his hosting and moderating skills.We had nearly 40 members attend the virtual convention. The 2020 Vice Presidential Candidate, Spike Cohen, was guest speaker and we also heard from National Libertarian Party Chair, Joseph Bishop-Henchman.
This year we heard from newly formed/ newly forming County Affiliates. Current affiliates in operation are:
The Greater Boston Libertarian Party
Libertarian Party of Worcester County
Libertarian Party of Berkshire County
Current affiliates which are still in the process forming are:
Libertarian Party of Cape Cod
Libertarian Party of Middlesex County
A new state committee was elected as follows:
Ashley Shade- Chairwoman
Cris Crawford- Treasurer
Derek Newhall- Recording Secretary
Michael Burns- Political Director
Andrew Moore- Membership Director
Janel Holmes- Communications Director
Jeremy Thompson- Operations Director
Daniel Riek- Technology Director
Charlie Larkin- Archivist
The members voted to pass 2 resolutions, Decriminalize Sex Work and End Government Mandated Covid Restrictions. The members also voted to table 1 resolution which will be voted on by the new State Committee at their next meeting. You can find the passed resolutions here: https://www.lpmass.org/resolutions.
The minutes of the convention will be posted in the Members Only section of the LAMA website.
End Drug Raids
The Libertarian Party is always and forever against the many forms of oppression and disenfranchisement used against groups and individuals. As a result, one of our core positions is opposition to the War on Drugs and the ever expanding government overreach justified by it. The Libertarian Party of Massachusetts acknowledges that the repeated cycle of violence and oppression experienced by people of color in America is an especially prevalent example of government abuse. The protests of 2020 have shone a spot light onto some of the most egregious abuses of government power - related to the war on drugs and otherwise. This has led to a broader demand for police reform and law-enforcement accountability such as the push to end qualified immunity in its current form shielding police officers from personal responsibility for sometimes atrocious rights-violations.
Massachusetts has even passed a broad police reform bill. The Massachusetts bill includes some laudable measures such as for example de-escalation training and professional standards with independent oversight, limits to use of force and no-knock warrants, and minor limits on qualified immunity. Responsible police departments across the Commonwealth, however, have long been applying similar measures and the vast majority of police officers in Massachusetts already exceed the standards set by this bill. The new regulation also appears to increase the level of centralized control, which bears its own risk of overreach and the kind of bureaucratic unaccountability that is plaguing our government at every level. What we need is local decisions and local civilian oversight. The bill fails to address some of the key issues: it limits no-knock raids but does not abandon them, nor does it in any meaningful way address the war on drugs, and on the central question of qualified immunity it does not go beyond jet another 'commission' to kick the issue down the road. It simply does not go far enough.
Maybe the most important problem with the bill though is the refusal of the legislature to acknowledge that the issues are not with individual 'bad apples' among the police officers that need to be reigned in. It is the structure of our criminal justice system itself and the laws created by the legislatures - at both the state and federal level - as well as the seemingly endless list of regulations delegated to the executive, that are the problem. Abuse does not start with a police officer using excessive force, it starts with a militarized law-enforcement machine sent to persecute citizens for non-violent, victimless crimes, such as drug offenses.
It is time to stop scapegoating the police and realize that it is the laws they are tasked to enforce and the methods they are told to use that are the problem. We need to end the government's attempts to control what people put in their bodies, decriminalize or legalize drugs (without prohibitive taxation), and end the War on Drugs that has lead to mass incarceration and violence, but has utterly failed to address the problem it is supposed to correct.
It is refreshing to see John Oliver make many of these Libertarian points when he demands to stop doing drug raids. That would be a good next step for Massachusetts.
A Good First Step But Not Enough: The Massachusetts Senate’s Police Reform Bill
Massachusetts Libertarians welcome the police reform bill, but it’s just the first step. Government overreach is the underlying cause and needs to be addressed.
This Monday, the Massachusetts State Senate published a police reform and racial equity omnibus bill (Bill S.2800 / 191st General Court). Based on an initial review, the proposed bill includes legislative measures supported by the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts: Changes that would reasonably limit qualified immunity, certify police officers and improve their training, create a duty to intervene when witnessing other officers use of excessive force, prevent problem-officers from being promoted, offer more clarity for limits on use of force, improve handling of mental-health related situations, and at least suspend the government use of remote biometric surveillance technology such as facial recognition software. This is a positive development for the citizens of the Commonwealth.
However, this bill also has some important short-comings: While increasing the control on the acquisition of military grade equipment by the police, the bill appears to fall short of any significant roll back of the existing militarization of the law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts. Also it does not seem to include any measure to curtail the use of asset forfeiture or other ‘policing for profit’ practices that haunt the state. Another major gap is the apparent failure to address prosecutorial misconduct along with the policing issues - the two of them usually go hand-in-hand.
The vast majority of police officers already fulfill their duties beyond the standards established in this bill. And while it is important and long overdue to create a set of rules that incentivises these good officers instead of allowing the bad ones to thrive. And while this bill is generally an important step in the right direction, improving law enforcement accountability and training, it is only scratching the surface of the underlying problem of a broken criminal ‘justice’ system that has become much too intrusive into our lives, criminalizing everyday behavior.
Libertarians in Massachusetts think that we need to take this one step further and change not only how we are being policed, but also what is being policed: the best trained and most honorable police officers will fail to sustain justice, if we require them to enforce unjust laws. Calling the violence against citizens that we have witnessed over and over again just ‘police violence’ misses the underlying problem: it is ‘government violence’ created by laws we allow to be made and rooted in government overreach. The long-term solution to this problem is to remove the constant government intervention from people's everyday lives - as long as they are not violating the rights of others. This means first of all, abolishing laws that fabricate ‘victimless crimes’ - illegal acts that directly involve only the perpetrator or occur between consenting adults and ending the racist war on drugs.
To fix the system of governance in Massachusetts, we need local action and visibility for principles of Liberty in Massachusetts. Change will start locally. Join the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts. Volunteer in a campaign. Create a local group in your town. Reach out to the LAMA State Committee.
Contact your Representative - End Qualified Immunity!
Qualified immunity has got to go!
With the protests over the unjust death of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis police department, discussions of the actions needed for real, concrete criminal justice reform have finally become part of the national conversation.
Representative Justin Amash (L-MI) is introducing legislation to end qualified immunity. Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine that shelters government employees from the consequence of certain actions that turn out to be illegal. In recent years, this doctrine has been expanded to encompass more and more cases of police officers using disproportionate force and killing people they interact with.
This is also supported by a Resolution adopted by the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts in response the the murder of George Floyd, that calls for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to lead the necessary change by abandoning the war against drugs, to end police militarization, to take concrete steps towards re-establishing law-enforcement accountability, specifically by abolishing the concept of qualified immunity, and to remove the pretext for so much of the police violence by revoking laws that fabricate ‘victimless crimes’ - illegal acts that directly involve only the perpetrator or occur between consenting adults.
For more information on qualified immunity and the fight against it, please see: https://www.unlawfulshield.com/
We, as Libertarians, have always opposed the expansion of unjust police power, and condemn the political processes that use it. It is time to make our voices heard and work with all our hearts to ensure that we see comprehensive criminal reform enacted during our lifetimes. Representative Amash's bill is the first step (of many to come) in that direction.
Libertarian Representative Amash’s Bill to End Qualified Immunity already has the support of Massachusetts Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Jim McGovern, Joseph P. Kennedy III, and Lori Trahan. Let's make sure that the other 6 Massachusetts Reps join them.
How to help
The most important thing you can do is to contact your congressional Representative and urge them to support Representative Amash's Ending Qualified Immunity Act.
To find your Representative's contact information:
- Go to https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/MA#representatives
- Enter your zip code to find your Representative, if you don't know your congressional district
- To the the right of their picture will be a collection of links that will lead you to place where you can contact them
If you have Twitter, please tweet at your rep at the Twitter handle provided on in the Links section to the right.
If you are calling your Representative, always be sure to be courteous and professional. Be prepared to give this message either to a person, or (more likely) as a voicemail message.
Here is a sample message:
Hello, my name is <your name>. I am a resident of <town> in Representative <representative's name> district. I am calling today to request that Representative <representative's last name> support Representative Justin Amash's Ending Qualified Immunity Act.
Qualified Immunity is a legal tool that has been used by corrupt police officers to escape the consequences of their actions during times when they have clearly acted in an abusive or unjust manner.
In the wake of the protests in response to the death of George Floyd, the responsible and moral thing to do is to end qualified immunity as the first real step towards real, comprehensive criminal justice reform. Thank you.
If you are emailing, here is a template. Be sure to replace ALL of the things in < > with the correct person's name.
Subject: Please support the Ending Qualified Immunity Act
As I'm sure Representative <representative’s name> is abundantly aware, unrest and anger has spread across the nation in response to the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Congressman Justin Amash (L-MI), has introduced the Ending Qualified Immunity Act to Congress, which would end the Supreme Court's controversial decision to extend "qualified immunity" to police, protecting them from being sued or held liable for their actions in cases where they have violated a civilian's civil rights. I strongly encourage Representative <representative’s last name> to back the Ending Qualified Immunity Act and remove this gaping hole in police accountability, which will not only protect American citizens from explicit abuse by unjust police officers, but also help begin rebuilding confidence in America's law enforcement, here and abroad.
Make no Mistake: Government Overreach is the Problem
Don’t excuse reprehensible violence in the name of some ‘greater good’. And don’t let the violence perpetrated by a small minority become the defining narrative and drive division.
Yesterday we have seen the best and the worst of Boston: First a weekend of peaceful protests and solidarity against government overreach and police brutality: protests against the continued economic shutdown, that is destroying livelihoods, as well as protests against the murder of George Floyd by a police officer, and against the continued injustice it has become a symbol of. Later, we had to witness a night of violence, rioting and looting. People getting hurt and private property being destroyed, innocent business owners and their employees, who are already put under enormous pressure by the government-mandated lock-down, receiving another blow - all under the eyes of Police and National Guard.
It was predictable that rioters would use the earlier, peaceful protests as a pretext to wreak havoc. The anger over the injustice symbolized in the agonizing murder of George Floyd as well as the killings of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, the penned-up emotions from months of lockdown, the desperation in the face of economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the flawed government response to it, have created the type of climate that is so often the trigger for rioting and sometimes used as a cheap excuse for this type of violence. And while riots and looting have been a common scene across the country accompanying the protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, we have to note that in Boston they are somewhat special: Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and other elected officials in the state have appeared to at least negligently encourage this kind of mob violence, while slandering peaceful protests that went against their agenda, or in some cases going so far as promising non-prosecution of violent offenders.
There really is nothing to justify the attacks we have observed last night in Boston or the often even worse violence that occurred all over the country. There is really no way one can justify for example a mob beating up an elderly store owner in broad daylight as seen in Rochester, NY. Everyone with an intact moral compass will be disgusted by these brutal assaults. Yet, we should not fall into the trap of allowing the violence perpetrated by a small minority to become the defining narrative. We can observe first hand the scramble by corporate media and the duopoly parties to own the defining narrative around the riots. And everyone can find something that confirms their preconceived views and biases: There is real anger that finds its outlet in rioting, there is real looting, I am sure there are just-for-fun rioters, it is likely that groups of different political ilk are trying to stoke the riots for political gain, there are just plain criminals who use it to even a score, and yes, it is plausible that even agent provocateurs are involved in some cases. So if we are honest, no one is going to get their clean story. The reality is, that any attempt to glorify anything here is going to be based in lies and end in fiasco.
What many people appear to be missing, is that this pattern is what keeps the same cycle of change-prevention alive. Rioting is false and just serves as a justification for expansion of government control, and making it the main narrative is the catalyst for that. The saddening and outrageous death of George Floyd in a city run by Democrats for generations, in a state run by a Democrat Governor, demonstrates that there is no real ‘lesser evil’ between the duopoly parties. In reality, rioting is merely a symptom. We have to address the underlying disease in our society, and that is government overreach. Stand up against violence, call out those who riot, don't let the rioting become the defining narrative. Don't let the symptom get in the way of treating the problem.
To paraphrase Libertarian Congressman Justin Amash: Let’s not confuse the protesters in Boston with the rioters in Boston. Two different groups with different agendas - one righteous and the other perverse.
The injustice that so many are feeling in different ways is caused by one problem: government overreach. People on either side of the traditional political divide are realizing that they are merely pawns in the establishment’s play for power. As Libertarians in Massachusetts, we have the opportunity to stand against that and lead by example guided by our principles of Self Ownership and Non-Aggression.
It is unacceptable, that property is being destroyed and innocents are being hurt. And the killing of black men must stop.
Tune into a conversation with Vermin Supreme on current issues at the Libertarian Nuts and Bolts show Episode #1 on Thursday, June 4 at 7 pm.
End Government Oppression - Join the Peaceful Protest
Black Lives Matter and government oppression must end.
While there are many forms of oppression and disenfranchisement against many groups and individuals, the cycle of violence and abuse experienced by the black community in America stands out. The wanton murder of George Floyd has become another symbol of that. It is time for change. And while there will be many different opinions on what a solution may look like, we can all agree that this kind of government brutality can no longer be tolerated. It is time for accountability.
Libertarians need to join in and help to identify the root causes while acknowledging the pain experienced by a group of people that has for too long been the preferred target for government abuse. Today is a day where we should all unite and stand with the black community and say "no more!"
As a Libertarian, I encourage all members of the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts and all liberty-loving residents of New England to show their support: If you can, join the peaceful protests today in Boston and show our flags in support of the victims of government oppression.
If you are considering going, please assess your personal risk from participating in a large protest in a major city, and take appropriate precautions.
George Floyd - Murdered by Police
You have probably seen the news or maybe even the horrifying video showing George Floyd's agonizing death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. The officers involved have now been fired and an investigation is underway, charges may be forthcoming.
The issue though is that these types of murders by cops have been going on *forever*, and are probably much less frequent now than before. They were just swept under a rug of police lies. People in the targeted communities have always known this.
But now that everyone on the street is a potential video reporter, we live in an age where we can sit in our comfortable suburban homes, open up our social media app, and watch a video of a man being sadistically murdered by a gang of cops just a few hours after it happens. We, too, now feel the rage, sorrow, and disgust that such knowledge imparts to any normal person.
We need to reassess our whole concept of police work, and the institutions that foster the culture we just witnessed.
Libertarians are the only ones who understand that any law we ask our police to enforce, no matter how minor the infraction, opens the door to this type of travesty.
It is time for change. We all are responsible for allowing the laws that create these situations, for allowing the government to become oppressive to the point of literally choke its citizens to death.
Our deepest condolences go out to George Floyd's family. We hope they are the last family to ever suffer a loss in this way.
Read more at Reason.com ...
RCV petition drive goes virtual
In a surprising move, Secretary of State Bill Galvin has allowed the signatures for the second phase of the Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) ballot drive to be collected electronically. This drive is extremely important for the future of the Libertarian Party.
When Justin Amash announced his interest in becoming the Libertarian candidate for President, there was an immediate outcry from Democrats and Republicans alike, calling him a "spoiler" and claiming he would steal votes from their candidates. No matter whether Amash or any of our other worthy candidates is chosen at the Libertarian National Convention (now scheduled to begin online on May 22), this argument will eclipse all others, and our candidate will draw the wrath of the main stream. The widespread adoption of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) will eliminate this argument forever.
RCV has been used in several U.S. municipalities for many years, and was adopted statewide in Maine in 2016 and overwhelmingly in New York City in 2019. When Massachusetts passes RCV this November, it will trigger a cascade of success in other states. If timid liberty-minded voters are able to rank the lesser of two evils as a backup #2, worthy candidates will no longer consider the Libertarian Party a lost cause.
In order to earn RCV a place on the November 3, 2020 ballot, the people must submit a second round of 13,374 valid signatures by June 17. The campaign kicked off the signature drive on May 6th and we need thousands of MA voters to sign the RCV petition electronically from home.
As you may know, volunteers from Voter Choice for Massachusetts, the organization driving the RCV campaign, made history last fall when they submitted 111,000 certified signatures to the Secretary of the Commonwealth; the most ever by a Massachusetts ballot initiative campaign. The Libertarian Party of Massachusetts has supported RCV since 2019, and we are proud to be part of this historic effort to give more voice to voters.
We hope you will take a minute to sign the RCV petition right now by clicking here, and please share this URL with your friends and family (sign.voterchoice2020.org) on Facebook or via email. Nothing like this has ever been done before, but with your help we can make history together.
If you would like to get involved to help safely gather signatures from your friends and neighbors, the campaign has the tools and training to support you. Please sign up here, or contact Brian Bass, Organizing Director for the RCV campaign, at [email protected]