ANC 6A Commissioners: Retract Racist MPD Letter, Set the Record Straight

ANC 6A Commissioners: Retract Racist MPD Letter, Set the Record Straight

0 have signed. Let’s get to 200!
At 200 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!

Kris Garrity started this petition to Commissioner Marie-Claire Brown and

[image description: video conference screen with Commissioner Toomajian speaking, overlaid with closed captioning that reads, "There's a lot of comments being posted in Q and A, and that." In smaller windows above Commissioner Toomajian, from left to right, are the screens of Commissioners Hudson, Brown, Alcorn, Zimny, and Phillips-Gilbert. Text above the Commissioners' windows reads, "ANC 6A Meeting-20200709-1." To the right of the Commissioners' windows is the meeting transcript capturing portions of Commissioners' statements acknowledging that constituents had comments during the meeting but would not be permitted to speak.]

Dear Chairperson Gove and ANC 6A Commissioners, 

We, the undersigned ANC 6A constituents, write to express our outrage that seven ANC 6A commissioners voted to approve a factually inaccurate and racist letter dated June 14, 2020 in support of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and in opposition to widespread support to defund MPD. The Commission’s letter was misleading and does not represent the views of ANC 6A residents. Your express efforts to silence residents, listed below, demonstrates that you are not interested in those views or accountability to your constituents. 

  • On June 11, 2020, ANC 6A voted to approve this letter without proper notice in the ANC 6A agenda
  • On June 14, 2020, ANC 6A sent this letter without a comment period to ensure constituent input on the subject. 
  • On July 9, 2020, ANC 6A actively silenced residents in the monthly ANC 6A meeting by not allowing for public comment, a clear abdication of section 1-309.11(b)(3) of the DC Official Code.

As signatories to this constituent letter, we denounce MPD, and we denounce MPD's longstanding policies of stop-and-frisk/jump outs; criminalization and harassment of Black youth in schools and in the community; criminalization of Go-Go; surveillance of Black activists and Black and brown Muslims; cooperation with ICE; exploitation and sexual violence against sex workers and women; and the protection of officers who have murdered members of our community.

The Commission’s Letter is Inaccurate and Racist

The Commission's letter demonstrates a severe lack of understanding of how the MPD affects the lives of those you represent. Your letter states that MPD “play[s] an important role in public safety,” and its full funding is necessary in order to “allow for continued safe, peaceful First Amendment protests in the District in order to help prevent another response like the one that federal officials produced around Lafayette Park.” The facts tell a very different story. 

The MPD did not keep DC residents safe during the protests around Lafayette Park. On the contrary, the ACLU of DC has obtained video evidence of MPD officers firing tear gas at protestors. This tear gassing, as well as the MPD’s kettling and mass arrests of protestors at 15th and Swann Street NW, and additional instances in which MPD used chemical weapons against protestors, constitute human rights violations. These protestors are DC residents, and they are your neighbors. The MPD’s recent actions escalated tension and, in many cases, constituted violence. They did not make DC more safe.  

Acts of violence by the MPD are not new, and it is not just police “half a country away” that routinely murder Black and brown people. Jamaal Byrd, D’Quan Young, Marqueese Alston, Jeffrey Price, Terrence Sterling, Amir Brooks, and Raphael Briscoe were all murdered by the MPD in the past ten years, and their families are still awaiting justice. Say their names.

In the discussion preceding the Commission’s decision to send the letter fully supporting the MPD, ANC 6A Commissioners described the MPD as “DC’s finest” and “a progressive police force.” The letter states that the MPD “provides key services to our community’s diverse residents” and strives to be as “antiracist” as possible. Again, the facts tell a different story.  

The MPD's racist practice of stop-and-frisk disproportionately affects its Black residents. For three years, in violation of D.C. law, the MPD refused to collect data on its stop-and-frisk practices. When it finally did, the data showed that between July and December 2019, 72 percent of stop-and-frisk targets were Black, and 88.6 percent of youth under 18 who were targeted were Black—in a city with a Black population of 46.5 percent. Further, during the period in question, violent crime increased by four percent. This data led the Executive Director of the ACLU of DC to state that “MPD’s stop and frisk practices are highly ineffective and potentially violate the constitutional rights of Black people in the District on a daily basis.”  

The MPD employs officers who have been photographed wearing white supremacist images and officers who had to be explicitly ordered to stop handcuffing children after handcuffing a “totally innocent” ten-year-old Black child right here in Ward 6. MPD officers have been accused of surveilling Black Lives Matter activists. MPD officers have been under investigation for sexual assault and violence against sex workers, many of whom are Black and brown trans women. MPD officers have been sued for the assault and misgendering of trans residents. MPD officers have been accused of egregious violations of the rights of disabled DC residents.  

MPD’s racist practices have lethal consequences. MPD has an average annual rate of 7.6 killings of Black people in D.C., compared to an average annual rate of 0.7 killings of white people—a disparity in which Black people were 11 times more likely to be killed by MPD than white people.

Beyond these racist actions, MPD does not achieve even basic public safety measures. Despite having an annual operating budget of more than $500 million, 100 DC residents have been murdered thus far in 2020. This number has increased each year since 2018. Recently, MPD officers have routinely failed or refused to wear lifesaving personal protective equipment (PPE). This further jeopardizes DC’s Black residents who are not only already overpoliced by MPD but who are more susceptible to COVID-19 illness and fatalities due to structural medical racism and racist health disparities. According to a July 2020 report by American Public Media, Black residents in D.C. constitute 74 percent of coronavirus deaths and have a fatality rate that is 5.9 times higher than white residents—the largest disparity in death rates between Black and white residents among any other city in the country with published demographic data. 

The Commission’s Letter Does Not Represent the Views of Many Residents

These are only some of the reasons that of the more than 16,000 people who signed up to testify at the June 2020 hearing on the MPD budget, 99 percent supported decreasing MPD funding. And we, as residents of Ward 6, and you, as Commissioners in Ward 6, have a responsibility to hold the MPD accountable.  

Ward 6 is the most quickly gentrifying ward in one of the most quickly gentrifying cities in the nation. The Black population around H Street has dropped from 77 percent in 1990 to 45.2 percent in 2010, and this trend appears to have continued in the years since. There are well documented correlations between gentrifying neighborhoods and wealthier, whiter residents calling the police on Black residents over “quality of life” complaints in public spaces. As investments to this neighborhood cater primarily to newer, wealthier, and whiter residents that continue to pour into H Street and other historically Black spaces in Ward 6, we would do well to remember the history of state-sponsored redlining and strategic neglect and divestment that have had devastating, multigenerational financial consequences for Black residents that persist to this day.

The Commission Failed to Seek Public Input on This Important Issue

The Commission did not include debate on this topic and a potential letter in its published agenda for the June 2020 meeting. The Commission invited MPD to speak but closed the opportunity for public comment before sending this damaging letter. For a full accounting of your actions in this matter, see the timeline enclosed as Appendix: Timeline.  

The Commission Actively Silenced Public Comment During Its July Meeting

Many of us attempted to share these views with you at the ANC meeting following publication of the Commissioners’ letter in support of the MPD, but we were silenced by the people who were elected to represent us. Despite a legal obligation to allow residents to comment during ANC meetings, the Commissioners refused to take attendees off mute for the duration of the meeting and cut the meeting short prior to the “community comment” period. Per the Office of the ANC Executive Director, your actions to silence community input during the July meeting represented an “abandonment of statutory requirements.”  

Constituents Demand Action from ANC 6A

We are angry and disappointed that our ANC has chosen to ignore the effects that the MPD has on the lives of DC residents -- particularly Black residents. We demand the following steps to begin rebuilding trust with the community. 

  1. We demand that the Commission reserve significant time on next month’s meeting agenda to address these issues, and that such meeting include substantial time for community input. Alternatively, we demand a separate town hall, properly noticed and allowing for significant community input, for the ANC 6A on these issues.  
  2. We demand that ANC 6A correct the record by writing another letter to Chairman Mendelson and the D.C. Council, and to Mayor Bowser. This second letter should clearly acknowledge the devastating impact the MPD has on many DC residents, including ANC 6A residents, and state that the Commission’s initial letter was sent without the Commission soliciting input from its constituents, per DC statute. 

Put simply, the Commission should rescind its prior letter and clarify that it was not representative of ANC 6A residents.


Sincerely,

Laura E. Furr
ANC 6A04

Kris Garrity
ANC 6A01

Sam DeLuca
ANC 6A07

Stephanie DeLuca
ANC 6A07

Madeline Gitomer
ANC 6A06

Evan Preston
ANC 6A08

Enclosure: 
Appendix: Timeline

CC: 
Chairman Mendelson
Councilmember Charles Allen
Hill Rag

---

Appendix to Constituent Letter to ANC 6A
Timeline: ANC 6A Sends Letter of Full Support for MPD and Silences its Constituents

On June 14, the ANC 6A sent a letter to the DC City Council to express its support for maintaining and increasing the MPD budget and its unanimous opposition to calls to defund MPD. This action was taken without providing notice that this issue would be discussed at the June ANC 6A meeting. When community residents showed up at the July meeting to express their opposition to this letter and to have their voices heard, they were silenced, and the community comment period was stripped from the agenda. Below is a detailed timeline of the events that occurred.

June 11: The ANC 6A holds its monthly meeting. 

  • Though the meeting was “properly noticed,” on the ANC 6A website, the agenda made no mention of a letter of support for the MPD.
  • ANC 6A invited MPD 1st Captain Michael Pulliam to speak, despite not being listed on the agenda. The commissioners responded to Captain Pulliam’s presentation by lauding the MPD.  
  • Commissioners discussed whether they could release such a letter without public input and moved forward without seeking further clarification on the issue or taking the more community-centered approach.  

June 14: The ANC 6A sends letter of support for MPD to Chairman Mendelson & Members of DC Council.

  • The letter states that the “[c]ommission voted 7-0-0 (with 5 Commissioners required for a quorum) to express our support for the Mayor’s proposal to provide a modest budget increase for the Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”) and to express our unanimous opposition to recent calls to defund MPD.” It does not mention the failure to obtain public comment.

July 6: ANC 6A residents have their first opportunity to learn of the letter via the media.

  • On July 6, the HillRag, a local publication, posted an article stating that ANC 6A supports full MPD funding.

July 9: The ANC 6A holds its July meeting and silences all resident attendees, blocking participation for the entirety of the meeting.   

  • The agenda for the meeting lasted from 7pm to 9pm.  The last agenda item, from 8:55 to 9pm, was a five-minute period for residents to speak.  
  • Throughout the meeting, all residents were placed on “forced mute.” This meant that they were not able to speak or be heard.
    As time passed, multiple residents requested, via a chat box, the opportunity to speak and assurances that they would be given their time at the end of the meeting. These requests were visible only to Commissioners, not members of the public, because of the chat box set up. 
  • The meeting ran long, and most agenda items were extended. However, the Commissioners made the decision to cut the Community Comment period from the agenda altogether. 
    Ignoring repeated requests to allow residents to speak, Commissioner Gove allowed the other commissioners to address the letter at the end of the meeting.  
  • Two commissioners did raise concerns, saying that they had heard from constituents that there should have been more time for residents to weigh in on the decision to send this letter to the City Council.  

July 10: Office of the ANC Executive Director calls the actions of ANC6A during their July meeting "problematic" and "an abandonment of statutory requirements.”

  • A concerned ANC 6A resident spoke with OANC Executive Director via phone.  

July 21: Serve Your City notifies ANC 6A of its intent to reject a grant from the Commission and receives no reply.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 200!
At 200 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!