NEWTON, MASS. (WHDH) - A running group called the “TrailblazHers” filed a lawsuit against the Boston Athletic Association and the Newton Police Department, accusing them of racial profiling during the 2023 Boston Marathon.

Cell phone videos surfaced showing police officers on bicycles separating the running club, which is made up of people of color, from the marathon course at mile 21. Additional police on motorcycles can be seen behind the group.

“What should’ve been a day of joy and celebration was turned into a day of discrimination and trauma for our clients,” Oren Sellstrom, the litigation director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, said in an interview. “Our clients were intimidated, harassed, and racially profiled.”

The lawsuit alleges it began when “a spectator of color joyfully celebrated by launching a confetti cannon… In response, an NPD officer… fisted the front of the spectator’s shirt, demanded identification, and threatened an arrest for allegedly running in the course.”

While it is against the rules for spectators for marathon spectators to go onto the street, the BAA apologized about the way the situation was handled. Sellstrom said there have been no meaningful reforms to make sure last year’s events don’t happen again this year.

“I stand by my decisions that day, and more importantly, I stand by our officers who acted appropriately, respectfully, and as expected,” Newton Police Chief John Carmichael said in a statement.

(Copyright (c) 2024 Sunbeam Television. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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