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Carol Rose on BPR, 12/4/2018

ACLU Massachusetts 'Hoping' To Sit Down With Boston Police Commissioner After Facebook Flap

William Gross
In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, Boston Police Superintendent-in-Chief William Gross walks through a door of a hospital in Boston. Gross will succeed Police Commissioner William Evans, who announced his retirement from the force on Monday, July 23, 2018.
Steven Senne/AP
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Carol Rose on BPR, 12/4/2018

Boston Police Commissioner William Gross found himself in hot water this weekend after criticizing the American Civil Liberties Union in a post on his personal Facebook page.

Gross's comments referred to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and other groups to obtain more information about the department's "gang database," including the demographics of the people listed and how the database is used by federal authorities. Gross called the organization "paper warriors" fixated on filing lawsuits.

ACLU of Massachusetts Executive Director Carol Rose said she is "willing" and "hoping" to sit down and talk the issue over with Gross and Mayor Marty Walsh — and she believes they are, too.

"[A meeting] hasn't happened yet, but we're willing to and we've reached out hoping that it will happen," Rose said on Boston Public Radio Tuesday. "I think there's a willingness both from the commissioner and the mayor to meet and talk to the ACLU."

Rose went on to say that she doesn't take the commissioner's comments personally.

"The ACLU is a free speech organization, so we really appreciate and defend Commissioner Gross's right to make his statements known [and] his views, and we appreciate the role of measured criticism. We dish it out as well as receive it," she said.

"We never took this very personally," Rose continued.

Rose said the ACLU's lawsuit was inspired by cases in other cities where gang databases were found to be inaccurate and racially skewed, like in Chicago earlier this year.

"In other cities and towns where this has been used, it's been shown to reflect serious racial disparities — in Chicago, in Oakland, in other places," she said. "We just want more information."

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