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