The following can attributed to Scott Michelman, Legal Director, ACLU of the District of Columbia.

“Our report was based on interviews with more than 50 witnesses and protestors who shared what they experienced and saw that evening on Swann Street. For the union to dismiss the accounts of these witnesses as ‘fraudulent’ is deeply insulting to those who suffered trauma and unnecessary exposure to COVID-19 as a result of MPD’s aggressive and ill-advised tactics.

“If union officials had read the report, they would see that we address their allegations that bricks were thrown and police cars were set on fire on Swann Street. None of the dozens of protestors we interviewed witnessed such a thing. Indeed, the Swann Street demonstrators were cited for curfew violations, not charged with rioting or property destruction. The union’s allegations are not supported by our interviews or by the police department’s own arresting and changing decisions. If the union has other information, including body-worn camera footage, that would support their assertions of a ‘violent riot,’ we hope they will share it with the public.

“Finally, the union asserts the report is designed to serve an agenda of ‘defunding police.’ For the past few decades, D.C. has diverted money from critical social services such as education, drug treatment, mental health care, and affordable housing. What the ACLU-DC is calling for is a rebalancing of limited financial resources from police to these services that our communities so desperately need. We believe D.C. communities are best served by a government that addresses these issues outside of the criminal justice system.

The Swann Street report can be found here.