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Boston Marathon spectators say they were intimidated by police along course

By Danae Bucci

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    BOSTON (WCVB) — A Massachusetts police department and the Boston Athletic Association are responding after complaints have surfaced over how some spectators were treated along the Boston Marathon route.

Some spectators cheering on runners in Newton said they felt targeted.

“They definitely made us feel like we don’t belong there, that we’re not welcomed there even though we’ve been there for five years.” said Aliese Lash, with the Pioneers Run Crew.

Lash has made the base of Heartbreak Hill a cheer zone for years but said about halfway through, there was an unwelcomed presence.

“There is about 20 bikers in the police uniforms that were just blocking us from the race, but it definitely felt like an intimidation factor,” Lash said.

The B.A.A., along with the Newton Police Department, said they received three separate complaints about spectators crossing onto the race course, impeding runners.

Police officers on bikes created a physical barrier between the spectators and runners in response.

Lash says her club runs alongside its members as encouragement.

“I’ve done so at the same spot for the past five years with no complaints,” Lash said.

“Everything we did seemed to be a problem, and the only thing that explains that to me is who we are and how we look,” Lash said.

One neighbor, who did not want to appear on camera, said he didn’t see spectators getting into the road but said he could hear the noise.

“It was so freaking loud. The house was shaking. The house was vibrating from the music,” the neighbor said.

“I know for a fact that there are other stations across the course that have the exact same speakers that we have,” Lash said. “If you choose to live on the course, the marathon course, you know that it is loud for one day a year.”

In a written statement, the Newton police said that they were respectful in their response.

“After being notified by the B.A.A. three times about spectators traversing the rope barrier and impeding runners, the Newton Police Department responded respectfully and repeatedly requesting that spectators stay behind the rope and not encroach onto the course,” police Chief John Carmichael said.

“When spectators continued to cross the rope, [Newton Police] with additional officers calmly used bicycles for a short period to demarcate the course and keep both the runners and spectators safe,” the written statement said.

In a written statement, the B.A.A. said, “The B.A.A. is committed to creating a safe and enjoyable experience for athletes, volunteers and spectators across all our events.”

The Pioneers Run Crew and TrailBlazHER’s running club will be meeting with the B.A.A. on Wednesday evening about what happened.

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