FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON -- The following can be attributed to Monica Hopkins, Executive Director, ACLU of the District of Columbia:
“We are deeply alarmed and troubled that Mayor Bowser has imposed an 11PM curfew and called the D.C. National Guard to support the Metropolitan Police Department for the protests that have happened this weekend.
“The nation's capital is one of the most important places for protest to take place right now. Demonstrators are protesting police brutality, white supremacy, and state violence that claims Black lives. To impose a curfew is tone deaf and exactly the wrong approach.
“MPD already has the authority to make arrests for unlawful activity. We are concerned this expansion of its powers will lead to selective and biased enforcement and risk harassment of people who are unhoused or who need to travel after hours for work or to seek medical attention. Curfews also prevent reporters from doing their jobs and holding law enforcement accountable, and as we’ve seen from recent news coverage, attacks on journalists have been widespread.
“In addition, MPD has in several high-profile incidents over the years—including the 2017 inauguration day protests, the subject of a pending ACLU-DC lawsuit—shown that it is all too willing to sweep up peaceful protestors in mass arrests if some unlawful activity occurs during a protest. Expanding MPD officers’ arrest powers—in the midst of a pandemic no less, when the need for medical care and attention is especially acute—is misguided and dangerous.
“The ACLU-DC calls on Mayor Bowser to abandon this drastic measure or at the very least delineate exceptions to the curfew, such as for those who are unhoused or need to travel for work or medical needs. We also call for the area of the curfew to be limited to specific geographic areas of demonstrable law enforcement concern , so movement restrictions are not unnecessarily enforced on the rest of District residents and in residential areas.
“The murder of George Floyd and so many other Black people at the hands of law enforcement, both across the country and here in the District, has caused tremendous pain and outrage. To squelch free speech in the nation’s capital at this time of acute pain in this nation’s consciousness is counterproductive at best, and deadly at worst.”