Group files lawsuit against Newton police over 2023 Boston Marathon incident

Last April, videos surfaced from the Boston Marathon showing group of runners and spectators—predominantly Black—near Heartbreak Hill, with a line of police of police officers facing them and forming a blockade between the crowd and the runners.

Now, Lawyers for Civil Rights has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Newton Police Department as well as the City of Newton and the Boston Athletic Association on behalf of the running group TrailblazHers Run Co., whose members were among those in that crowd.

The lawsuit accuses the police of exhibiting racial bias and says that police approached the crowd after someone fired a confetti cannon and then stayed and “harassed” the crowd of mostly Black people while allowing crowds of white spectators to do as they pleased.

“This discrimination and racial profiling harms TrailblazHers and other running crews of color in their efforts to increase diversity in the white-dominated running industry,” the suit reads. “For individual members, police profiling and scrutiny turns what should be a day of joy and festivity into one of pain, humiliation and trauma. It also perpetuates the harm and stigma of ‘running while Black.’”

Newton Police Chief John Carmichael Jr. released a statement Friday denying the claims made in the lawsuit.

“Upon reviewing this complaint, I unequivocally contest the document’s substance as presented,” the statement reads. “I stand by my decisions that day, and more importantly, I stand by our officers who acted appropriately, respectfully and as expected.”

Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said in a statement Friday evening that her administration is “confident that our Police Department acted respectfully and appropriately during the 2023 Boston Marathon.”

“The Boston Marathon is a joyous occasion, and the Run Crews add much enthusiasm to the experience for so many athletes making their way up Heartbreak Hill,” Fuller said. “We continue to have an open door and we hope for open lines of communication with the Run Crews. As we have offered, we would be happy to speak or meet with the Run Crews before April 15 to answer any questions they might have or to discuss any concerns. We look forward to Monday and working with everyone to have the Marathon be joyous and safe.”