Civil Rights Groups Seek Court Order Against D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser for Long-Delayed Stop-and-Frisk Data
WASHINGTON — Today Black Lives Matter D.C., Stop Police Terror Project D.C., and the American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia asked a Court to order Mayor Muriel Bowser and two other top D.C. officials to comply with a provision of the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Act that requires D.C. police to collect comprehensive data on all stops and frisks conducted in the District beginning in October 2016. Other defendants in the case are Deputy Mayor Kevin Donahue and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham.
“The District’s unacceptable delay in implementing the NEAR Act’s requirement to collect data on stops and frisks suggests that Mayor Bowser and Chief Newsham are scared of what the data will prove,” said April Goggans, Core Organizer of Black Lives Matter D.C. “The time for games is over. This data collection is necessary to enable the community to hold D.C. accountable for what its police are doing on the streets, particularly if the data matches what we experience every day: that MPD is disproportionately stopping people of color, especially Black people. This lawsuit is the first, necessary step in the fight for fair treatment of all who live in the District.”
The lawsuit follows a demand letter and Freedom of Information Act request sent to the mayor on March 28, 2018, requesting the detailed stop-and-frisk data required by the NEAR Act or ― if as the civil groups suspected, the law had not been implemented ― the District’s plans for implementing the data-collection requirement. In response, the District provided a sample of stop-and-frisk records using pre-NEAR Act data collection protocols. Further, the government provided no documents — nor indicated that such documents exist — reflecting any plans or timetables for achieving full compliance with the data collection requirement.
“Mayor Bowser has abdicated her duty to follow the law. By stalling, then making excuses for not collecting this critical data, she has sent the message that police transparency and accountability are not D.C. values,” said Monica Hopkins, Executive Director, ACLU-DC. “It leaves us no choice but to ask the court to compel the mayor to enforce a law she’s sworn to uphold.”
On March 29, the day after the demand letter was sent, Chief Newsham admitted to the D.C. Council’s Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing that MPD is “guilty” of not implementing the law. Deputy Mayor Donahue told the Council the $150,000 the council had initially allocated would be insufficient to achieve full implementation ― a claim the administration is now making for the first time, more than two years after the law passed.
Passed unanimously by the D.C. Council in 2016, the NEAR Act is a comprehensive policy framework that promotes public safety by reducing incarceration, employing a public health approach to violence prevention, and increasing data collection on police stops. The stop-and-frisk data collection provision calls for police officers to collect 14 categories of data for every stop in D.C.
Today’s motion for a preliminary injunction is based on the power of the D.C. courts to compel action that is mandated by law but has been “unreasonably delayed” by the executive branch. That motion can be found here: https://www.acludc.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/near_act_pi_motion_final.pdf
The complaint initiating the case, Black Lives Matter D.C. v. Bowser, was filed in Superior Court of the District of Columbia on May 4. The complaint can be found here: https://www.acludc.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/near_act_complaint_final.pdf
The March 28, 2018 demand letter can be found here:
The March 28, 2018 Freedom of Information Act request can be found here:
This press release can be found here:
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