PRESS RELEASE: Family Of D’Quan Young To Hold Vigil And Demand Answers

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 

Media Contacts:

Natacia Knapper

Valerie Wexler

Family Of D’Quan Young To Hold Vigil And Demand Answers

One year after D’Quan Young was killed by an off-duty police officer Young’s friends and family will honor him and demand police accountability

Washington DC -- On May 9th, 2019 D’Quan Young's family, friends, and community will gather at Brentwood Recreation Center to mark the one-year anniversary of his death. Young's family still does not know the name of the off-duty DC police officer who shot and killed him in Northeast DC the evening of May 9, 2018.

Young was gunned down outside Brentwood Recreation Center, the same place where Young played football with his daughter and younger cousins. At 6:30 PM, exactly one year later, community members will hold a vigil to celebrate Young’s life, grieve his death and demand answers from their government.

Young left behind his four-year-old daughter, his grandmother Phyllis Young, his aunt Michelle Young, his mother Catherine Young and father Don Davis. Together with friends, neighbors and local organizers they intend to send a message to the DC Council, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and Mayor Muriel Bowser: The community has not forgotten about the death of yet another DC resident at the hands of an MPD officer and we will not stop demanding justice.

Despite witness reports that the unknown officer "shot wildly" while chasing Young down a community street, the family and public have been given no information about the investigation into what happened that night, not even the name of the officer or if he is still on active duty or paid leave. It is difficult to imagine any other instance in which the family of a homicide victim would be kept in the dark, not allowed to know the name of the man who killed their son, their brother, their father.

"It's been 365 days since the passing of my son and I've yet to get one answer about what led to his shooting" said Cathy Young, who was detained and questioned for hours by police and prevented from seeing her son as he was dying in a hospital miles away.

Homicides have continued to rise in DC but Brentwood residents now know they cannot look to their police department to keep them safe. Instead, they are forced to wonder every day if one of the officers in uniform patrolling their their local streets is the same man who killed their neighbor and friend.

Stop Police Terror Project DC (SPTP-DC) joins the Young family in calling for answers to the following questions:

  • Who shot D’Quan Young and why has his name not yet been released?

  • Was the officer given a blood alcohol test or screened tested for any illegal substances?

  • Did the officer try to render aid to D’Quan Young after shooting him?

  • Why did an off-duty officer draw his weapon and why did he consider deadly force necessary instead of de-escalation?

  • Why did the supervisor called to the scene immediately after the shooting fail to initially inform his superiors that a police officer had been involved in a shooting, and why did that sergeant remove the officer from the scene so he could not be immediately questioned?  

  • Why has no footage from security cameras in the surrounding area been released?

  • Why, after a year, have the public and the press been given no status updates on the state of the investigation into the officer’s conduct?

  • Is the officer who killed D’Quan Young still on the streets with a badge and a gun?

Along with a full and transparent investigation to answer the above questions, we demand that:

  • The MPD immediately release the surveillance video they claimed on May 15, 2018 to have obtained.

  • The DC Council immediately demand that the MPD provide a publicly available report on the current status of the investigation including the name of the MPD officer who killed D’Quan Young whether the officer is still on duty, whether the officer has been accused of previous misconduct, and what specific steps are being taken to investigate the officer’s conduct. And if the report is not provided in a reasonable amount of time that the Council institute penalties including withdrawal of funds and fines.

  • DC Attorney General Karl Racine immediately open an investigation into the killing of D’Quan Young.

  • DC councilmembers introduce legislation that institutes clear regulations on police accountability, transparency and discipline including (but not limited to) requirements that the names of all officers involved in violent incidents, police-involved shootings, deaths in custody, or misconduct be released to the public within 24 hours, that investigations into misconduct are conducted by an independent review board with disciplinary authority, and that the Council and public get regular updates on investigations.

  • DC councilmembers introduce legislation that bans the practice of stop and frisk, which only terrorizes communities and does not keep them safe.

Who: The family of D’Quan Young supported by Stop Police Terror Project DC (SPTP-DC) and their organizational partners.

What: A vigil in honor of the one-year anniversary of the death of D'Quan Young. Young's family, friends and community will celebrate his life and demand justice for his death. Speakers will include Beverly Smith, mother of Alonzo Smith, SPTP-DC core organizer Sean Blackmon, Ward 5 Roving Leader Ricardo Duren, and Jason Mohamed on behalf of Don Davis.  

When: Thursday, May 9 at 6:30 PM. Speakers will start at 7 PM

Where: Brentwood Recreation Center (2311 14th St NE, Washington, DC 20018)

Why: D’Quan Young, a Black man, was shot and killed by an off-duty DC police officer on May 9, 2018. Despite the continued efforts of the family (including weekly calls to the DC Metropolitan Police Department, requesting official records, testifying in front of the DC Council, and meeting with council members), Young's loved ones still do not know why he was killed, the name of the officer who killed him, or if the officer is still on active duty in their community.

SPTP DC, BLM DC, & Commissioner Anthony Lorenzo Green Letter to Council Re: Proposed MPD Union Contract


Councilmember Elissa Silverman (Chair, Committee on Labor and Workforce Development)
Councilmember Charles Allen (Chair, Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety)
Councilmember Mary M. Cheh
Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie
Councilmember Robert C. White, Jr.
Councilmember Trayon White, Sr.

Dear Councilmembers:

It has been brought to our attention that the Committee plans to hold a roundtable on MPD’s proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) on November 14, 2018. We are extremely concerned about the unreasonably short turn-around time as well the contents of the proposed agreement.

We ask the Members of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development to:

  1. Closely examine the proposed CBA before deciding whether it should be approved;

  2. Attend the public roundtable on Wednesday, November 14 at 1:00 p.m., and ask questions of the government witnesses regarding the substance and process of the proposed CBA; and

  3. In light of the lack of time afforded the Council for consideration, consider delaying approval until the Council -- and the public -- have had time to properly evaluate the proposed CBA and its potential ramifications

It appears the CBA was provided to the Council on October 15, 2018. However, this roundtable -- which is the only opportunity for public witnesses to provide input -- was not announced until after the November 6 election and is taking place two days before the CBA is “deemed approved” on November 16. This means that the Council has only two days to consider the CBA and any testimony before deciding upon the proposal or its approval by default. This extremely short two-day period between the roundtable and deadline, combined with the post-election timing, effectively eliminates the time for public witnesses, especially those who are most directly impacted, to testify and/or submit comments and for the Committee and Council to properly and thoroughly evaluate the substance of the CBA.

The fact that this CBA, as currently proposed, eliminates any changes to discipline (Article 12) from this agreement and negotiation is extremely concerning and appears to do the opposite of what the community has asked of the city and its police department. Not only would this CBA eliminate any changes to discipline, but it would also provide pay raises for three years (3% retroactively for FY18, 2% in FY19, and 3.5% in FY20) which are above the cost of living. These increases are not earned, and certainly not warranted. Raises would be rewarding MPD without requiring them to address the ongoing and increasing incidents of officer misconduct, use of force, and police-involved deaths. It would also mean effectively removing any bargaining leverage to improve the existing, and incredibly problematic, disciplinary provisions in the proposed separate “Joint Labor Management Committee” negotiation process.

To Black and other marginalized DC communities, this would only further solidify fears that MPD is once again being rewarded while increased targeting, abuse, and civil rights violations of their communities persist. These are just two of the most immediate and urgent concerns we have with this CBA.

No one should be disenfranchised by or from this process. We ask the Committee to allow more time to ensure that the Committee and the public may be fully informed of the contents of the proposed CBA, to ensure those who wish to contribute can, and for public and organizational witnesses to have reasonable time to examine and prepare in-depth and specific testimony on the substance of the proposal.

To be clear, although Black people make up 47% of D.C.’s population, they remain the subjects of the vast majority of all stops, frisks, and uses of force in the District. A January 2018 D.C. Office of Police Complaints (OPC) Report found that of the 2,224 total reported uses of force in FY 2017 (October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017), 89% involved a Black subject. A February 2018 investigative report from WUSA9 analyzed pre-NEAR Act data and found that approximately 80% of the stops involved a Black subject.

Just last week, OPC released its FY18 Annual Report that revealed officer misconduct complaints are up 78% since FY16, 780 complaints were received (the second consecutive year of receiving a record number of complaints), 501 new investigations were opened (more than any other year since OPC’s inception in 2001), and MPD use-of-force incidents have increased by 56% over the last five years, from 636 incidents in FY13 to 991 incidents in FY17.

We are strongly urging you to make it a priority to attend the roundtable in order to both listen and ask important questions, and request that you vote no on this proposed CBA so the parties may continue the bargaining process including disciplinary provisions in a manner that wholly reflects the gravity of the impact these decisions will have on MPD’s relationship with the public, particularly with Black and other marginalized communities in DC.

The lack of accountability or consequences for misconduct in MPD demands a real, immediate, upfront commitment to overhaul current disciplinary processes. The existing CBA’s disciplinary provisions, which would remain in force and potentially be worsened, are tragically inadequate and systematically prevent accountability or consequences for egregious behavior, and create a climate of impunity and toxic culture within MPD.

We strongly encourage the Committee to seriously consider whether the proposed CBA is the direction we should be going, and to explore whether rejecting this agreement and forcing the parties to negotiate the full scope of their agreement would be better for our city. At the very least, we ask that the Committee allow itself enough time to conduct a proper analysis and consideration of the proposal before allowing it to take effect.


Black Lives Matter DC
Stop Police Terror Project DC
Anthony Lorenzo Green, Commissioner, ANC 7C04


While there are years of evidence, here are just a few examples of how the current disciplinary procedures harm, traumatize, put our communities at great risk, and leave our neighbors brutalized, even murdered:


Since 1996, October 22nd has been marked as a national day of protest against police brutality. As the September 6th murder of Botham Jean by a Dallas police officer has reminded us, the scourge of police terror ‒ and the racist criminalization, harassment, and mass incarceration that go along with it ‒ is as acute, unjust, and outrageous as ever.

Join us this year as we continue the fight and remember those who have been victimized.

Over the past few months, the District of Columbia has not been exempt from this trend. On May 4th, 22-year-old Jeffrey Price was chased to his death by DC’s Metropolitan Police Department. On May 9th, 24-year-old D’Quan Young was shot to death by an off-duty MPD officer near a recreation center.

Two weeks later, Metropolitan Police officers brutally beat Samuel Cooper on the same street where Young was murdered.

On June 12th, Marquese Alston, 22, was murdered by MPD officers in an alley in Southeast Washington, and two days before that 41-year-old Robert Lawrence White was killed by Montgomery County Police in Silver Spring.

We have also seen numerous videos emerge of outrageous stop-and-frisk incidents and the beating of a 24-year-old woman by Metropolitan Transit Police. The former issue was so serious as to inspire a two-part DC Council hearing on brutal police practices.

All of this is taking place against the backdrop of major unanswered questions regarding a documented internal police culture of racist and violent imagery and logos and ongoing attempts to hide data on clearly racist police practices.

It is clear that this October 22nd, more than ever, it is crucial we raise our voices. Tens of thousands have been murdered by police, tens of millions have been harassed and mistreated, and hundreds of thousands have been railroaded into prisons.

Join us on the evening of Monday, October 22, 2018, as we march and rally to condemn racist police terror, remember those who have been lost, and vow to continue the fight to put an end to racist police terror, harassment, and mass incarceration.

We will meet at the Gallery Place Metro at 6:30pm.

BYP100, Black Lives Matter DC, and Stop Police Terror Project DC statement on the tragic death of Makiyah Wilson and ongoing community and police violence

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                   
July 18 2018


Name: April Goggans, Black Lives Matter DC and #KeepDC4Me
Phone: (202) 250-4541

Name: Eugene Puryear, Stop Police Terror Project-DC
Phone: (202) 556-1651

Name: Darya Nicol, BYP100

BYP100, Black Lives Matter DC, and Stop Police Terror Project DC statement on the tragic death of Makiyah Wilson and ongoing community and police violence

Washington, District of Columbia - July 18, 2018: Due to the neglect of Mayor Bowser, Deputy Mayor Donahue, Chief Newsham, and Councilmembers, 10-year-old Makiyah Wilson is dead and her mother was left holding her child’s lifeless body. Today we send our deepest condolences to the family of Makiyah Wilson, to the Clay Terrace community, and to all of those in Ward 7 who see the impact of violence everyday.

Rather than prioritizing comprehensive public health-based policies enshrined in the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act of 2015, for three years Bowser, Donahue, Newsham, and Councilmembers have prioritized the illusion of creating safety with police presence. For three years, Bowser, Donahue, Newsham, and Councilmembers have had the opportunity to fix the type of problems leading to deaths like Makiyah’s. Instead, for three years our public officials have failed to ensure full implementation of a progressive community-focused approach to violence.

Mayor Bowser and Chief Newsham have not only failed to address the rise in violence in our city, but their actions and failed policies have contributed to it. Time and time again, Mayor Bowser has had opportunities to implement and embrace policies proven to reduce violence. Time and time again, she has rejected them in favor of more policing and criminalization. Bowser and Newsham have failed our communities.

“Government officials in the District have consistently ignored any evidence-based practices in constructing public safety policy, and have seemed more concerned with scoring points against their critics than with seriously addressing public safety issues,” said Eugene Puryear, co-founder of the Stop Police Terror Project-DC.

In 2015, Mayor Bowser tried to address violence by implementing an extreme crime bill that Law for Black Lives-DC warned would make the District, “a more punitive, unjust and draconian place to live,” and ACLU DC said promoted “ineffective and counterproductive ‘tough on crime’ approaches to public safety.” The bill was defeated because of the work of Black Lives Matter-DC, Stop Police Terror Project-DC and other community organizations. This should have sent a message to the mayor that she needed a different, community-focused approach. However, instead of listening to the lived experiences of residents of her city and the experts that spoke up, the mayor has simply doubled down on failed policies. Instead of embracing a progressive, evidence-based, community-focused approach to violence in the form of the NEAR Act, Bowser and Chief Newsham have fought it every step of the way.

On May 29, 2018, Mayor Bowser and Chief Newsham announced they would increase police presence by 25 percent in Wards 5, 7 and 8 in order to address the rise in violent crime. This included adding “additional officers to its evening and overnight shifts and additional personnel from the Narcotics and Special Investigation Division, the Special Operations Division, and the Homeland Security Bureau, as well as increased helicopter patrols.” This was despite testimony from community members on how increased police presence leaves them fearful for their lives. Police presence has not appeared to have lead to any slowdown in homicides or violent incidents. Instead, we have seen a significant increase in police use of illegal stop-and-frisk, use of force, brutality, and murder. Our communities are rightful in their fear and outrage. We uplift the deaths of Jeffrey Price on May 4, D’Quan Young on May 9, and Marqueese Alston on June 12, as well as the brutal beating of Samuel Cooper, and illegal stop-and-frisk and harassment in Deanwood.

“I feel like for nearly four years, we’ve been pouring our blood, sweat, and tears in to this work both in the streets marching, knocking on doors, having community meetings, and at the Wilson building. We’ve also worked really hard to get the NEAR Act drafted, passed, funded, and now pushing hard to get it fully implemented, but no one is listening. The NEAR Act was passed unanimously by the Council three years ago, yet bodies keep hitting the ground. I’m just so angry and so deeply sad. Each and every time we go to these murder scenes -- some on the blocks we live on -- connect families and neighborhoods to resources and support networks to address immediate and long term trauma, I just want to scream.” says April Goggans, Core Organizer with Black Lives Matter DC and Creator of #KeepDC4Me.

We believe Makiyah Wilson’s death was preventable. If Mayor Bowser, Deputy Mayor Donahue, and Chief Newsham had stopped trying to exploit the justified fear of Black communities to justify over-policing and used what actually works – comprehensive public health based policies — so much violence might have been prevented. Justice looks like working to ensure that the conditions that led to Makiyah’s tragic murder are no longer the norm.

It is not too late for our public officials to change the course of violence and death in the District’s streets. The public hearings that took place last Thursday showed members of the Council the trauma our communities have had to endure. It showed that they’ve had enough and demand to be heard. We must listen to them and we can prevent violence in the District by embracing the proven public-health approaches in the NEAR Act and by committing to addressing the root social causes that lead to violence. We call on every elected official to do just that. Community members and activists must be listened to. Preventative measures MUST be taken to stop violence in the District. We cannot wait any longer.


SPTP-DC and Partners Announce a Juneteenth Week of Education and Celebration


June 18, 2018

Media Contact:
Bailey Cox, 479-220-8925
April Goggans, 202-250-4541

Stop Police Terror Project-DC and Partners Announce a Juneteenth Week of Education and Celebration  

Washington, DC -- On June 18, 2018, Stop Police Terror Project-DC in partnership with Black Lives Matter-DC, Keep DC 4 Me, BYP100, Pan-African Community Action, ACLU-DC and Showing up for Racial Justice-DC will launch a week of events around Juneteenth.

Juneteenth serves as a historical milestone that honors those African-American ancestors who survived bondage and a celebration of the Black community's legacy of resistance, perseverance, and the strength of their human spirit. We mark Juneteenth not just as a day of remembrance but also as an acknowledgement that the struggle that began centuries ago continues today. It cannot be ignored that during the five weeks around this month of celebration three members of DC’s Black community have been murdered by police. Juneteenth allows us to take time to uplift a community so often under attack.

SPTP-DC core organizer Natacia Knapper says, “We want to give the DC community opportunities to both celebrate Juneteenth and Black liberation and to examine the many ways in which our current police grew out of systems set up to preserve and maintain slavery. To undo the systemic oppression that led to our police and prison state, we must come together and learn from each other what true safety and liberation means.”

This week of celebration is a reminder that the Black community will always fight to survive and will find joy in struggle. In the names of Jeffrey Price, D’Quan Young, Marqueese Alston, Terrence Sterling, and so many more, we will persevere and we will take care of each other.

Details on the week of events:

DC Activists: Metropolitan Police Department’s Violence, Recklessness, and Lack of Accountability Requires Immediate, Substantive Action from Elected Officials

On Wednesday, May 9th, an off-duty officer with the Metropolitan Police Department opened fire in northeast DC, killing 24-year-old D’Quan Young. Witnesses report that the officer “shot wildly, as children ran for their lives,” and that the officer reloaded his weapon and continued shooting after D’Quan Young was on the ground. This follows the May 4th killing of Jeffrey Price - in which MPD’s narrative of innocence directly contradicts witness accounts - and the recent lawsuit filed against the DC government for its failure to collect stop and frisk data required by the NEAR Act. April Goggans, a Core Organizer of Black Lives Matter DC, and Eugene Puryear, co-founder and core organizer of Stop Police Terror Project-DC released the following statement in response:

Read More

Sign-On Letter: MPD (March 2018)

March 1, 2018



We, the undersigned, are writing to express that there can be no real accountability for the Metropolitan Police Department within the existing structures. While the March 1, 2018 departmental oversight hearing for MPD offers an opportunity to address some of our concerns it is not an adequate venue for their full consideration.

We are demanding that the D.C. Council hold a specific hearing on issues of racism and violence within the Metropolitan Police Department outside of normal working hours.

Over the past several years we have seen significant factual evidence to demonstrate an ongoing culture of racism, bias, and violence within the Metropolitan Police Department. For instance, the decriminalization and later legalization of marijuana in the District was driven by the clear evidence of bias. A report by the ACLU revealed a staggering 90% of marijuana-related arrests were of Black people, far out of proportion with either the Black population of D.C. and all reliable data on drug usage rates.

On Tuesday February 20th, MPD released its raw data on field contact stops. This is data they were required to release by law as it concerns “stop and frisks.” This data according to MPD covers the year 2012-2016. In that time, a full 83% of all “stop and frisk” searches were of Black people. Clearly, there exists the same trends of racially biased policing that have become notorious in jurisdictions around they country.

We would further extend this to the extreme leniency shown towards officers who kill people. The US Attorney’s Office has very rarely brought an officer to trial on a use of force complaint. The MPD has also failed to fire officer Brian Trainer who killed Terrence Sterling, despite that recommendation being made. When a range of officers were recently revealed widely purchasing wearing and sharing shirts, patches and logos with racist and violent imagery, some of which mocked community concerns over civil liberties, two supervisory officials were reprimanded, again speaking to a culture of racism and violence that is officially tolerated.

As it concerns use-of-force, a recent report by the Office of Police Complaints noted that there was a 36% increase in use of force incidents in the past year (mirroring a rise going back several years) but that Black community members made up between 83% to 93% of victims of police violence since FY 2013. In addition to the raw increase, the number of individual officers using force has also increased 34% since 2013 to just over 1,000 of the forces 3,800 officers. 47% of those officers, almost half, used force in more than one incident, again speaking to the culture in MPD.

We have serious concerns regarding the ability of MPD leadership to oversee police responses to domestic violence. Police officers have a higher average percentage of domestic abuse in the home than the ordinary population. Our current police chief is among that percentage, which is very troubling. This is in addition to his own questionable role in the suppression of civil liberties by MPD which led to groundbreaking court cases protecting the First Amendment rights of protesters.

The above is not, in fact, a fully exhaustive list of our concerns. That is exactly why it is incumbent on the D.C. Council to hold a public hearing taking testimony on these issues and where there is direct questioning of MPD leadership on these issues. Anything less is an abdication of responsibility.


Stop Police Terror Project DCBlack Lives Matter DCKeep DC 4 MeCircle Of Love And Support - COLASCoalition of Concerned Mothers (COCM),Timothy Dawkins-EL ProjectRalphael T. Briscoe Memorial Foundation, 3Sunz, Kevin L. Cooper Foundation, Inc., Justice 4 #IndiaKagerNo Justice No PrideDefending Rights & DissentThe Future is FeministCollective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), The Movement for Love and UnityONE DCDC Working FamiliesGeorgetown Students for Justice in PalestineDC for Reasonable DevelopmentEmpower DCMovement Matters: Building Capacity for ChangeBlack Youth Project 100 DC (BYP 100), Aging People in Prison Human Rights Campaign (DCAPP-HRC), Socialist Alternative DC,D.C. ReInvest CoalitionDC for Democracy, DC Legal Posse, Jewish Voice for Peace - DC MetroWashington Ethical SocietyPeacebuilding ConnectionsResist ThisThe Center for Social Justice - Georgetown University350 DCLaw for Black Lives DCUndocuBlack Network: DMV ChapteriamWE Prison Advocacy Network, Millions for Prisoners Human Rights Coalition, La ColectiVaPartnership for Civil Justice FundSJP at GWU (George Washington University Students for Justice in Palestine), National Lawyers Guild DC Chapter (DC NLG), Mijente DC, Black Immigration Network DC, Smash Racism DCGrassroots DCThe Black Swan AcademyHUResistShowing Up for Racial Justice - SURJ - DCFICA DC (Capoeira Angola Foundation DC), Georgetown Black Student AllianceNaacp DC BranchPan-African Community Action (PACA), Justice 4 Terrence Sterling Steering Committee, Sanctuary DMV


Eugene Puryear | Stop Police Terror Project | (202) 556-1651 |
April Goggans | Black Lives Matter DC | (202) 250-4541 |

Civil Rights Groups Seek Court Order Against D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser for Long-Delayed Stop-and-Frisk Data

Civil Rights Groups Seek Court Order Against D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser for Long-Delayed Stop-and-Frisk Data

Today Black Lives Matter D.C., Stop Police Terror Project D.C., and the American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia asked a Court to order Mayor Muriel Bowser and two other top D.C. officials to comply with a provision of the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Act that requires D.C. police to collect comprehensive data on all stops and frisks conducted in the District beginning in October 2016.

Read More

Mayor Bowser, Stop the attack on Returning Citizens and DC's Black Community

Press Contacts:
Eugene Puryear, 202-556-1651
Sean Blackmon, 850-982-8176

A Stronger, Safer DC?

Mayor Muriel Bowser has released her plan addressing the spike in crime. As we, and many others, have stated, she is headed in the wrong direction. In her framing she states the plan is “comprehensive.” Translated from politician-speak that means it contains “something for everyone.”

We, however, have some serious concerns. Particularly about the massive increase in police presence and expansion of police powers. Much of what she proposes is based on spurious information.

Tougher penalties for crimes on public transit is a strategy that simply will not work. One of the principal studies on the effect of more severe penalties concluded: “the studies reviewed do not provide a basis for inferring that increasing the severity of sentences generally is capable of enhancing deterrent effects.” Thus we reject this mass incarceration approach to criminal justice that has been proven by the academic and anecdotal evidence to be unsound.

Further, the Mayor has sought a massive expansion of police powers to detain and arrest those on probation or parole. They claim they will focus only on “violent criminals.” This raises two questions, first: where is the evidence that this population of people is uniquely responsible for said murders? Secondly, why, if it is just “a few”, do we need blanket legal changes that criminalize and target wide swaths of Returning Citizens trying to rebuild their lives?

Further, when data concerning the decriminalization of Marijuana and MPD’s own public statements clearly show that racially-biased policing is a problem, what evidence do we have to inspire trust that these expanded police powers will not be abused?

At the root of the differences between critics from the broader Black Lives Matter Movement and the Mayor, however, is philosophical. She does not truly understand the thrust of our critique. Quite simply, our view is that policing is a band-aid approach to the fallout from the serious social problems created by the poverty and devastation in the “hardest hit” communities in Washington D.C. Large police surges may make some feel safe, but in the most impacted communities it drives a wedge between those who do, and those who see the criminal justice system as criminalizing the social existence of themselves and their friends.

This country has spent 30 years approaching “crime” through massive numbers of cops and draconian penalties that have had a devastating effect on Black and Brown neighborhoods, both on their own and as multiplier effects to problems like unemployment.

Mayor Bowser and Chief Lanier support this method. They’re approaching this from a police-state point of view; more cops, more surveillance, tougher laws to “suppress” crime. We are approaching it from the perspective of healing the “hardest hit” communities, by dealing directly with the root causes.

Our approach is vastly different. We recognize there is no real short term solution. We want to see a surge not of police but of community. The Mayor claims to also recognize root causes, but fails to address them adequately. Producing 1,000 units of “affordable” housing when the need is tens of thousands, while facilitating displacement in several public housing projects, for instance, reflects that inadequacy.

We specifically want an approach to murders that places at the forefront drastically expanded support for community-led peacekeeping and mediation programs. And a surge in resources to mental health and housing. As well as stronger enforcement of First Laws, strengthening of Ban the Box and other laws that fight discrimination against Returning Citizens.

The essential question in front of us is, do we continue with the police-state approach or do we start to rebuilding communities wracked by years of disinvestment and a draconian criminal justice system? This is not a “both/and” situation it truly is an “either/or”. The officials of the District of Columbia have to decide if they want to pay more than lip service to the needs of the “hardest-hit” communities.