April 3-7: Call the DC Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety as part of the Week of Solidarity with J20, Standing Rock, and anti-fascist arrestees.
On January 20, 2017 over 200 people were mass arrested during protests against the presidential inauguration and now face up to 10 years in prison over trumped up felony charges. Mass arrests in DC have been illegal for over a decade. In February, the Office of Police Complaints issued a report detailing the indiscriminate use of less-lethal weapons during the inauguration and calling into question the procedures used to arrest the crowd of 200 demonstrators, journalists, medics, and legal observers.
DC City Council has been largely silent about the report, but with oversight hearings for the police and the Office of Police Complaints coming up on April 12th, now is the time to demand that they make the police account for their actions. With trials for the 200+ anti-inauguration defendants just around the corner, it is critical to get the police to go on record now about why and how they violated their own rules and demonstrators’ rights.
We invite residents of DC and non-residents alike to call the following members of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety:
Call At-Large Councilmember David Grosso (202) 724-8105
Call Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh (202) 724-8062
Call Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Kevin Donahue (202) 724-5400
We also recommend calling the Mayor’s office:
Call Mayor Muriel Bowser: (202) 727-6263
Call-in details (April 3-7)
Please emphasize the following points, or use the prompt we’ve included below:
1) The Police Complaints Board report needs to be acted upon. The police conduct on Inauguration Day included violations of the First Amendment, the Police Standards Act, and was a ruthless, cruel display of force. They used chemical weapons, stinger grenades, and flash-bang grenades on large groups of people without a warning to disperse. This group of people included children, the elderly, the disabled, legal observers, and journalists. Police Chief Newsham should have learned his lesson already from the illegal, unconstitutional mass arrest in 2002 that prompted the Police Standards Act of 2004 and cost the city over $13 million in lawsuits.
2) The mass arrest at 12th and L NW specifically was a violation of the Police Standards Act, particularly the sections that detail…
-Police should limit arrest and citation to specific non-compliant demonstrators for whom there is probable cause (Section 107).
-Police should provide multiple audible warnings, a clear dispersal route, and sufficient time to disperse, when dispersal is deemed necessary (Section 107).
-Police should refrain from using police lines to surround demonstrators unless there is widespread unlawful conduct (Section 108). Remind them that marching without a permit is not unlawful conduct.
-Police should refrain from using chemical irritants to disperse demonstrators unless demonstrators are endangering public safety (Section 116).
3) Given these violations of the police’ own rules, and their documentation in the Police Complaints Board report, why hasn’t there been an independent investigation into the police’ poor conduct on Inauguration Day? Request that the oversight hearing for the Office of Police Complaints detail the violations and questionable police behavior they witnessed, and demand that the Metropolitan Police Department account for these violations at their oversight hearing.
You can also ask your own questions at the oversight hearings for the Metropolitan Police Department and Office of Police Complaints:
Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 9:30AM
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20004
Budget Oversight Hearings on Fiscal Year 2017
Persons wishing to testify about the performance of the Metropolitan Police Department and Office of Police Complaints may email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (202) 727-8275
Tips on making an impactful phone call
-Make it personal: why are you (as a resident of DC if applicable) upset over the police violence and mass arrests on Inauguration Day?
-Allow time for the person to respond.
-Make this a conversation—with all the calls coming in, this will make yours more memorable.
-Be clear and end the conversation with a clear call to action.
Make the script below your own. You want this to be a human interaction. If you live outside of DC, emphasize that while the Metropolitan Police Department is under the oversight of DC City Council, people from all over the country came to DC to protest, and that the actions of the police represent DC to everyone who comes here for First Amendment expression.
Hello, my name is ________ and I live at ___________.
I’m calling to ask that the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety act on the Police Complaints Board report about the illegal and unjust police conduct during the inauguration protests on January 20th. I would like to see a full, independent investigation, and the Committee can start by asking for further elaboration about that day from both the Office of Police Complaints and the Metropolitan Police Department at their budget oversight hearings on April 12th.
Please ask the MPD to elaborate on not issuing audible dispersal warnings, the use of “kettling” and mass arrest tactics, and their indiscriminate use of less-lethal weapons on Inauguration Day. Please ask the Office of Police Complaints about which aspects of their report the police have been least responsive over and which of their observations need further elaboration and explanation from the MPD.
The Inauguration Day Protests saw over 200 people mass-arrested—including lawyers, medics, and journalists—which goes against DC police protocol and law. The Police Complaints Board report in February was an important step, which upholds the Police Standards Act and details the indiscriminate nature of the arrests, chemical weapons, and dispersal techniques that the MPD employed that day. However, I’ve been disappointed in the lack of action on that report. I want to see the police held to the legal standards expected of them, and at the very least account for their behavior.
I urge the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety to do everything in its power to act on the Police Complaints Board report and address any possible violations of First Amendment rights and the Police Standards Act during the Inauguration Day Protests.
Police Standards Act: http://www.dcwatch.com/archives/council15/15-968.htm
Office of Police Complaints report: https://policecomplaints.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/office%20of%20police%20complaints/publication/attachments/Inaguration%20Protest%20Monitoring%20Report%20FINAL.pdf
We are not lawyers. We do not provide legal advice. If you require legal advice, please seek it out, from a qualified attorney, in a private and/or privileged setting.
We are community members, with differing degrees of legal work experience, from in and around the DMV. We come out of different activist traditions and bring diverse political ideologies and/or philosophies with us to the group. We came together with a shared commitment to mutual aid under the banner of the DCLP in order to mobilize a rapid emergency response to the grossly malicious over charging, by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, of counter-inaugural protesters, who now face felony charges.
It is our intention to provide any and all manner of personal and/or practical support to these charged persons, through final disposition of their cases. It is vital to clarify that, despite the case-related nature of some of the support that DCLP provides, none of us, individually, institutionally and/or organizationally is an agent of and/or an actor on behalf of anyone, named defendant or otherwise. Therefore, nothing is intended to be construed as an attributable admission by anyone of anything, beyond specifically and intentionally identified persons, acting in their own personal and/or political capacity, where applicable.