FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 11, 2017 CONTACT: 202-270-8488, firstname.lastname@example.org
ACLU-DC Partners with Law 4 Black Lives and Others to
Prepare Protesters for Inauguration Demonstrations
New Resources Encourage Demonstrators to Record Questionable Police Conduct
WASHINGTON, DC – Anticipating tens of thousands of protesters demonstrating in Washington, DC, over the course of inauguration weekend, the American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia has partnered with Law 4 Black Lives, Black Lives Matter DC, and four other local organizations to release a Know Your Rights guide to give citizens vital information to navigate interactions with law enforcement.
The guide, available today on the new ACLU-DC website at acludc.org/demonstrate, includes information on permitting, the many different types of law enforcement a person can encounter in DC, suggestions for how to interact with law enforcement, and information about what to expect in the unlikely event of an arrest. The ACLU is printing 10,000 copies of the pamphlet and will make them available to the public through partner groups.
“Gathering to express political views is a cornerstone of our democracy. Demonstrations in D.C. generally proceed without incident, but we want people to be prepared in case something goes awry or if they choose to risk arrest,” said Arthur B. Spitzer, Legal Director of the ACLU of the District of Columbia. “During this time of political heightened tension, it’s important protesters have a thorough understanding of their rights.”
The new guide encourages demonstrators to videotape officers: “Do feel free to videotape officers; It’s legal as long as you’re not so close as to be interfering.”
The release of the guide follows the rollout of ACLU’s new mobile application, Mobile Justice (available at acludc.org/mobile), for recording and submitting law enforcement encounters to the ACLU. Individuals who believe that they have witnessed a civil rights violation can complete an incident report and send it to the ACLU-DC for review, along with their contact information, for follow-up.
Currently, video is playing a crucial role in ongoing investigations related to two recent police altercations in the District of Columbia. When Gerald Javon Hall was shot and killed by police on December 25, 2016, officers were wearing body cameras and the Metropolitan Police Department has since released video from the deadly confrontation for review. By contrast, when Terrence Sterling was shot and killed by police on September 11, 2016, the Metropolitan Police officers involved said their body cameras were not turned on until after shots were fired, making it much harder to verify exactly what occurred before the shooting. The ACLU-DC has criticized the police for lax enforcement of its body cameras policy in connection with Sterling’s death.
“Recent shootings of black trans women, women, girls, and men in the District of Columbia and across the country have put the vital role of videotaping law enforcement encounters into stark relief,” said April Goggins, core organizer for Black Lives Matter DC, one of the co-sponsors of the Know Your Rights guide released today. “As demonstrators plan for
inauguration, video can be a valuable tool to document misconduct and ensure accountability on the part of law enforcement.”
The release of the guide coincides with the local ACLU’s changing of its name from the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital to the ACLU of the District of Columbia. “We exist to fight for the rights and liberties of the people of the District,” explained Monica Hopkins-Maxwell, Executive Director of the ACLU of the District of Columbia. “The ‘Nation’s Capital’ is a nice abstract idea, but we want to convey to D.C. residents that this is their ACLU, and that we serve for all the people who live here, not just the people who relate to the District as a capital city.”
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