December 16, 2020 | Media

Statement from Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau on Weekend Vandalism and Recent Police Action

Over the last several days, I’ve received calls, emails, and videos from constituents outraged at the Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPD) response to separate situations this weekend. Some have asked how White Supremacists are allowed to roam the streets of DC, burning things and inciting violence as part of the Proud Boys rally this weekend. Others have asked about a video that depicts MPD spraying chemicals on a group of people outside of a cellblock, as they wait to greet those being released and offer them support and services.  

I believe the outrage from my constituents stems from the stark juxtaposition of force and chemicals used against local DC residents during peaceful summer protests (and the fact that we still have not received the results of investigations of these actions despite my multiple requests), and how MPD handled these two incidents over the weekend.  

First let me say, hate, bigotry and racism have no home here in the District of Columbia, and I will not stand for it. Tearing down signs that mean so much to all of us – Black Lives Matter – is unacceptable, and the fact that our African American churches were targeted is reprehensible. This week the Council strengthened our hate crimes laws, which I hope is a signal to those visitors who will continue to visit and continue to spread their hateful messages – we will not tolerate it.  

Second, while I still do not have all the information about what occurred outside of the cellblock, I am disappointed that MPD continues to engage in behavior that is deteriorating the trust between them and the residents that they are called on to protect and serve.  

In the District of Columbia, we have taken important steps to reform policing practices. We have implemented the NEAR Act, which takes a community-based public health approach to reducing crime. We have implemented bias and cultural sensitivity training, and we have specialized units (Latino, LGBTQ, Youth and Family) that assist with police responses. 

In June, in response to the use of tear gas to disperse peaceful protesters, I introduced emergency legislation banning the use of tear gas by MPD during First Amendment demonstrations. That emergency legislation was incorporated into the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Emergency Act, along with measures that ban the use of chokeholds, require body-worn camera footage after any officer-involved death or serious use of force be released within 5 days of being requested, expanded the Police Complaint Board, and more. Clearly we have more work to do to ensure these reforms are fully implemented in the way the Council has intended them to be.  

We will not achieve a safer District of Columbia if our residents do not have trust in our police officers. I am calling on Mayor Bowser to hold the MPD accountable for their actions. It is incumbent on leadership to set expectations for how the department is to serve our residents.