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    Security guards at TD Garden can no longer eject homeless

    This is the entrance to TD Garden where a homeless man was allegedly assaulted by security guard Rene Norestant last month, according to authorities.
    John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
    This is the entrance to TD Garden where a homeless man was allegedly assaulted by security guard Rene Norestant last month, according to authorities.

    Private security guards who patrol TD Garden have been told they can no longer eject homeless people from North Station commuter rail platforms and waiting areas that are surrounded by the sports complex, after one of the guards was charged with beating a disabled homeless man with his own cane, transit officials said Thursday.

    Beginning Monday, MBTA Transit Police will also expand their patrol coverage of the station, said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo, who added that the guidelines were finalized during a phone call Thursday between the MBTA general manager, Transit Police Superintendent Richard Sullivan, and TD Garden president Amy Latimer.

    “All parties agreed that steps need to be taken to maintain a safe environment for the public,” Pesaturo said in a prepared statement.


    The Globe on Thursday detailed an apparent pattern of alleged assaults on homeless people by private security guards in North Station and TD Garden. During one such incident on Dec. 22, a security officer allegedly shoved a disabled, homeless man into a door and smashed the man’s own cane into his face,according to surveillance video described by transit officials.

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    The security officer, Rene Norestant Jr., was fired and arrested after the Globe made inquiries about the case. Norestant was charged with two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.

    An assistant district attorney said Norestant told police that the homeless man, Michael Hathaway, swung first.

    On Monday, the MBTA, Boston Police, TD Garden, and Allied Universal, the private security company hired by TD Garden, will meet to discuss “new standards, staffing and jurisdictions moving forward,” according to a statement from Latimer.

    She said all parties agreed that the incidents were unacceptable and “all patrons should be treated with the same amount of respect.”


    “Separately, we met with Allied Universal,” she said. “We hold them accountable for high professional standards for the safety and security of all our patrons, and we requested plans and immediate action for improvements of all security protocol.”

    Allied Universal officials said earlier this week they were not aware of any other police reports involving its guards at North Station besides the Dec. 22 incident involving Norestant. But the Globe found three other homeless people who filed police reports about alleged attacks, one of which named Norestant as the alleged assailant.

    Angela Burrell, a spokeswoman for Allied Universal, said Thursday the company is checking into the other allegations and the company has an “extensive training plan and other measures” that have recently been put into place. The company did not elaborate on the measures.

    Both Transit Police officers and private security patrol the areas near North Station’s commuter rail platforms, which are located below TD Garden. The Garden is owned by Delaware North and hosts games by the Boston Bruins and the Boston Celtics. Delaware North contracts out its security to Allied Universal, a large national company, which has worked with TD Garden for 30 years.

    While Allied officials said they were not aware of police reports filed before the Dec. 22 incident, a former Allied employee said he had raised concerns about Norestant’s behavior with the company.


    A local Allied official did not respond to the allegation that the company had fielded a co-worker’s concern about Norestant’s interaction with homeless people.

    The man spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his professional reputation.

    The former employee said he focused on building good relationships with the homeless people who came in and out of the station, which made it much easier to deal with problems when they arose.

    But he said there was little guidance from above: Allied policy was that the guards were not to put their hands on anyone, the employee said, but his supervisor’s directive about the homeless was, “Get ’em out, get ’em out, get ’em out.”

    “There was no clear-cut anything,” the former employee said. “It was like a wild West with security guards and the homeless.”

    Across the city, leaders reacted with shock and sought answers. Monica Tibbits-Nutt, a member of the MBTA’s five-person board, said she would consider pushing for even more police staffing at North Station after getting more information.

    “I’m always going to feel more comfortable with our Transit Police operating in our stations over a private security force, because we know what we’re dealing with and we have much more control over that,” she said.

    Stephanie Pollack, state transportation secretary, said in a prepared statement that “Every member of the public should be treated with dignity and respect at all times.’’

    “MBTA policy allows anyone not disrupting the peace to be allowed on MBTA property and individuals do not need to provide a reason for why they are there. The MBTA is taking steps to immediately communicate with private property owners that they too must comply with this policy,” Pollack said.

    State Representative Jay Livingstone, whose district covers North Station, called for sensitivity training for security employees at TD Garden who interact with the public.

    “The allegations of security guards beating up anyone — particularly those most vulnerable — is extremely troubling,” he said. “I have no idea what their hiring criteria is, but I hope they certainly take any immediate action for employees who are found [guilty of] wrongdoing.”

    Rene Norestant was arraigned in Boston Municipal Court on charges that he assaulted a homeless man in the North Station on Dec. 22.
    John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
    Rene Norestant was arraigned in Boston Municipal Court on charges that he assaulted a homeless man in the North Station on Dec. 22.

    Joe Finn, executive director of the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, said that people frequently dehumanize homeless people, and see them as “throwaway people.”

    Finn said he hoped the North Station incident would bring more attention to the plight of those dealing with homelessness.

    “People can react all the more with outrage over this, but where are the people demanding that the poorest and vulnerable around us must be housed?” he said. “That’s the most pressing question.”

    City officials said they will meet with TD Garden officials to remind them of resources available to homeless people, said Jim Greene, assistant director for street homeless initiatives in the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development.

    “Any vulnerable person needs to be treated with respect and kindness, and get connections to care,” said Greene.

    Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George, chairwoman of the Committee on Homelessness, Mental Health & Recovery, said that committee will organize a public forum for homeless people, so that officials can hear directly from them about problems they are facing, at North Station or elsewhere in the city.

    “We need to make sure that while we’re doing what we can for those experiencing homelessness, that we’re including the homeless in that conversation,” she said.

    Nicole Dungca can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ndungca. Evan Allen can be reached atevan.allen@globe.
    . Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen.