New England First Amendment Coalition
December 2020

There's Still Time to Protect First Amendment Freedoms and to Support Local Journalism . . .
As was the case with many non-profit organizations, 2020 posed significant challenges to our coalition. The pandemic forced us to reassess where we could be of most help and how we could best assist New England communities.

We're happy to report that not only are we soldiering on, we are also finding new ways to increase our influence and protect the rights of all citizens.

In addition to continuing our annual banner programs, we have helped in three main areas this past year: the ongoing pandemic, law enforcement accountability and the right to peacefully protest.

Your support is crucial to this work. We're extremely grateful for all your help each year.
Miss Our Exclusive Event with CNN's John King?
NEFAC recently presented a conversation with CNN Anchor and Chief National Correspondent John King.

The live presentation was available at no cost exclusively to those in NEFAC's Sustaining Membership program. Members can receive a private link to the recording by emailing

Not a Sustaining Member? Join today.
Evan Allen, a reporter at The Boston Globe, discusses a new database she and her colleagues created to help citizens search misconduct records within the Boston Police Department.

Tiffany Tan, a reporter at the Bennington Banner, describes how access to the Vermont judicial system has been limited during the COVID-19 pandemic and why citizens should be demanding more transparency.

Additional Coverage

A conversation with Keila Torres Ocasio, Managing Editor of Investigations for Hearst Connecticut Media Group, about a recent series on gun violence in the state, the reporting process behind the stories and why local investigative journalism is essential to communities throughout the state.


NEFAC and the Providence Community Library recently presented a panel discussion on hate speech and the First Amendment.

The program features Steven Brown of the ACLU of Rhode Island; Michaelle Larracuente of Achievement at First Providence Mayoral Academy Elementary; Elana Rosenberg of Youth Pride Inc.; and NEFAC’s Gregory V. Sullivan.
Clark Ziegler wanted to help his son regarding a matter involving the suspension of his driver’s license by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, an agency that falls under the state’s Department of Transportation. It was at the time that the registry was in the process of trying to clear out a backlog of out-of-state violations since admitting that it had allowed suspension notices from states across the country to go ignored. [...]
Have a public records story you would like to share? Email with your experience trying to obtain information through a state public records law.
NEFAC, the New England Newspaper & Press Association and the Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University teamed up on Dec. 15 for a public awareness campaign to celebrate the birthday of our Bill of Rights.

"The First Amendment protects freedoms we need for a functioning democracy," said Justin Silverman, NEFAC's executive director. "Let's celebrate its birthday by recognizing, among other rights, our ability to speak freely and publish widely. This is an opportunity for us all to remember how crucial these First Amendment freedoms are to our daily lives — and how vulnerable we would be without them."
In New England, states at the forefront of giving access include Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, according to the New England First Amendment Coalition. They allow the public to attend either by listening in over the phone or watching the proceedings online. Access numbers or weblinks are provided by the courts.

The organization, which promotes public access to the government’s work, said that almost a year into the pandemic, courts should have already worked out how to provide public access to hearings.

“That’s far too long for any state to go without establishing some kind of consistently enforced policy that allows the public to access its court system,” said NEFAC Executive Director Justin Silverman. “Other states are providing that access, so it can be done,” he said. “It should be done, and the public should demand that it be done not months from now, not weeks from now, but done now.” [...]

Regional / National

White House, Press Freedom

Section 230

First Circuit, Right to Record




Police Surveillance, First Amendment



Panhandling, Freedom of Speech


New Hampshire

Rhode Island