DC Folks: Time to Declare Sides

Insist Leaders and Police Clarify Their Stands

DC’s people face a dire threat to health and well-being in these post-election days. We deserve leadership that will protect all of us, and that means more of us, in- and outside of DC, will have to speak up now. [This piece, posted at 4:30 on 11/13, was updated on 11/15].

Virus Exposure

DC is at grave risk for spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus when our quarantine regulations are ignored, as with the planned #MillionMAGA gathering this weekend (11/13–15/20). The risk is greatest for those here who are least able to protect themselves, self-isolate if exposed, and to recover their health if infected.

(credit: still from Twitter video by Brendan Gutenschwager, independent journalist).

Sanctioned Violence

Many among our diverse population are threatened, physically and psychologically, when our town is used as a gathering place for white supremacists. This threat is compounded when public forces — including Metropolitan Police Department and government officials — align themselves, through direct action or complicit silence, with violent ideology.

Dangerous Disparity

Election week gave us blatant examples of MPD’s disparate treatment of protesters and large gatherings, depending on neighborhood and racial mix of the crowd: Compare MPD’s aggressive tactics around the Black-led gathering in Black Lives Matter Plaza on Nov. 3, e.g., with that of the Nov. 7 gathering, including large numbers of white people, on the same spot. Such differential treatment serves to criminalize Black people and undermine Black-led exercise of First Amendment rights.

Public Safety Demands

We have not seen the “independent, fair, and impartial investigation” BLM DC demanded and the District deserves, regarding the November 4 incident and MPD response. MPD has yet to issue an apology or a full retraction. DC officials have not insisted on either one. And public outcry has been minimal.

Still from video of ChuckModi1 showing young Black man whose father was arrested.
Still image from @ChuckModi1

CONTACTS and LINKS

Contact Mayor Muriel Bowser (Twitter: @MayorBowser). Contact MPD Chief Newsham (@ChiefNewsham). Contact DC Councilmembers to find out when and how they’re planning to exercise oversight in this matter. Contact leaders in DC faith communities and local community organizations. Ask them all: When it comes to protecting the District, including our local BLM DC, from white supremacists, which side are you on?

DC-based, Chicago-born writer and journalist focusing on community, anti-racism, and Judaism.