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

CONTACTS:

Name: April Goggans, Black Lives Matter DC and #KeepDC4Me
Phone: (202) 250-4541
Email: april.goggans@gmail.com

Name: Eugene Puryear, Stop Police Terror Project-DC
Phone: (202) 556-1651
Email: eugene@sptdc.com

Name: Darya Nicol, BYP100
Email: dc.chapter@byp100.org

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.

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 18, 2018

Media Contact:
Bailey Cox, 479-220-8925
April Goggans, 202-250-4541
stoppoliceterrorprojectdc@gmail.com

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:

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Sign-On Letter: MPD (March 2018)

March 1, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

STOP POLICE TERROR PROJECT DC, BLACK LIVES MATTER DC, #KEEPDC4ME AND 51 SEPARATE ORGANIZATIONS DEMAND THE D.C. COUNCIL HOLD A PUBLIC HEARING TAKING TESTIMONY ON ISSUES OF RACISM AND VIOLENCE WITHIN THE METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT

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.

Sincerely,

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

CONTACT:

Eugene Puryear | Stop Police Terror Project | (202) 556-1651 | eugenepuryear@gmail.com
April Goggans | Black Lives Matter DC | (202) 250-4541 | april.goggans@gmail.com

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.

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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.

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