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ACLU Asks Police Not To Attend a D.C. Community Meeting on Policing

Metro police were asked to limit their presence at a public safety meeting following "recent events" that include a questionable search.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is requesting that representatives from D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department not attend a public safety meeting where residents are expected to voice concerns about the agency. The request highlights growing tensions between officers and residents in the nation's capital, as well as the ACLU's own rapidly evolving position on balancing speech and assembly rights against concerns about safety and comfort in the public arena.

The meeting was called by the D.C. City Council's Committee on the Judiciary & Public Safety after an incident occurred earlier in the week between police and a resident of the Deanwood neighborhood on the north side of Ward 7, which is predominantly black. Two police officers identified as Whitehead and Gupton descended upon a residency and began to conduct a questionable search. One was seen peering through a truck window before heading to the backyard. The events were captured by Jay Brown on his cellphone, who asked whether or not they had a warrant to search the home where his sister and niece live.

Brown asked Gupton what he was looking for, and Gupton would not tell him. Police later told the family that they believed a suspect dumped a gun in the area, but surrounding neighbors and children in the area were not alerted.

Brown and his family believe the search was a form of intimidation, as they are currently in the middle of a legal battle with the Metropolitan Police Department. Brown's nephew, Jeffrey Price, died in May after his illegal dirt bike crashed into a police SUV. Police told the family that Price was speeding and going down the wrong side of the road when the crash ensued. The story was challenged when witnesses and video from the scene indicated that an officer later identified as Michael Pearson pursued Price, which is against police policy, and attempted to cut off the dirt bike with his police SUV, leading to the crash.

Brown said the officers' search "further traumatized the family." He added, "There will be no trust in the community unless we have some type of change in the way our police are operating in our city, because right now they're conducting themselves like a lawless gang with no supervision."

After the search, the family filed a suit with the ACLU. In turn, the ACLU's D.C. office delivered a request on behalf of the Public Oversight Roundtable organizers regarding police presence at Thursday's meeting. A press release asked police to "respect organizers' request and keep a minimal, if any, presence" at the meeting, which was held in the Deanwood Recreation Center. The request cited "recent events."

Monica Hopkins, executive director of the D.C. office, said that while the organization was pleased that Chief of Police Peter Newsham planned to attend the event, it was equally important "for community members to have an opportunity to share their concerns without feeling pressure from law enforcement."

Photo Credit: Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

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  • Don't look at me.||

    The world gets weirder by the minute.

  • darkflame||

    Because the cops have nevvvvvver visited a witness or a court case in large numbers in order to intimidate before. On the one hand, I get it, ACLU's doing its virtue signaling. But the cops aren't exactly blameless.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    The ACLU is doing its job.

    Cop succors and other authoritarians, bigots, Republicans, and goobers may be expected to object.

    Libertarians, though, thank the ACLU.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Well that's progress! Apparently Republicans, being called out by name, are NOT Cop succors, authoritarians, bigots, or goobers.

  • Longtobefree||

    This is a wildlife area; please do not feed the trolls.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Ha! How do you now I am not trolling the troll?

  • Trollificus||

    By the absence of a bridge?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is requesting that representatives from D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department not attend a public safety meeting where residents are expected to voice concerns about the agency.

    I'm not sure how I feel about this. If you want to communicate your feelings to the police, it may be helpful to have the police... you know... there.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Monica Hopkins, executive director of the D.C. office, said that while the organization was pleased that Chief of Police Peter Newsham planned to attend the event, it was equally important "for community members to have an opportunity to share their concerns without feeling pressure from law enforcement."

    Sounds like the chief of police is going to be there. I guess the question is at what point does having the cops there to hear your concerns cross the line into intimidation. A dozen? Two dozen? And what type of uniform. Plane clothes? Normal patrol officer uniform? "Storm ninja" SWAT uniforms?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Plane clothes should never be allowed aboard.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Fashion faux pas.

  • croaker||

    The police already know how the public feels about them - and they don't give a rat's ass.

    All this is going to do is give the cops the excuse to declare it an unlawful assembly and start tossing pepper gas grenades into the meeting.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    "There will be no trust in the community unless we have some type of change in the way our police are operating in our city, because right now they're conducting themselves like a lawless gang with no supervision."

    Not true. They're acting like a "lawful" gang, which is just following orders.

    You know who else was just follow ... ah, fuck it.

  • Happy Chandler||

    The crew of the USS Enterprise?

  • Cy||

    The shitcago lever puller and gas chamber workers union?

  • Trollificus||

    The chick behind the counter at McDonalds'?

  • BYODB||


    "...as well as the ACLU's own rapidly evolving position on balancing speech and assembly rights against concerns about safety and comfort in the public arena.


    *lights up the laughter sign*

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Police will be in the parking lot collecting license plate numbers.

  • croaker||

    Police will be at the entrances performing "stop and frisk" on everyone leaving the meeting.

  • Cy||

    They'll have a DUI checkpoint at the entrances to the parking lot for everyone's safety.

  • Longtobefree||

    Nice little place you got here; be a shame if someone tossed a gun over the fence one night

  • Trollificus||

    Meh. Yet another of those "Fuck all these fuckers." stories.

    High crime area unhappy there is police activity. Check.
    Virtue-signalling proggie organization. Check.
    Misbehaving police. Check.

    The police should announce a complete withdrawal from a one mile radius centered on the meeting, and stand completely the fuck down. I mean, you see a dozen complaints about the police and then one little news blip about "People in the Such-and-Such community near downtown are complaining about rampant crime, and accuse the PD of not protecting them." Then a police spokesperson stating that investigations and prosecutions fail because people in that community invariably refuse to cooperate with the police, share information of admit to being witnesses of the crime the cops are supposed to stop. I suspect news orgs have a template for this story and they just fill in the feed with the names of the involved spokesperson, activist, and man-on-the-street and oila! A three minute "news" story.

    A big part of the problem with a lot of big-city police departments (besides militarization) is their obvious sense of distance from the communities they serve and the people in them. Well, let's try and make that worse, shall we? Fucking genius.

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