D.C. Police's Inauguration Day Arrests May Have Violated Rights

ACLU Raises Concerns About Indiscriminate Corralling, Unjustified Pepper Spraying, and Prolonged Processing Time

January 27, 2017 3:45 pm

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Monica Hopkins-Maxwell, executive director of the ACLU of the District of Columbia, had the following reaction:

“As more details emerge about the conduct of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) on Inauguration Day, the ACLU of the District of Columbia is becoming concerned that law enforcement may have violated demonstrators’ rights in any of three ways: by indiscriminately corralling and detaining individuals, including journalists and legal observers, who were not involved in any criminal activity; by using pepper spray without justification on people who were not breaking the law or who had already been detained; and by holding individuals outdoors for excessive periods of time, in some cases up to eight hours, without access to food or bathroom facilities.

“When using force and detaining citizens, police have a responsibility to use reasonable judgment to separate those who have committed a crime from those who are simply executing their constitutional rights, and when people are arrested, police have a responsibility to process them without undue delay. Under no circumstances should the police use pepper spray on arrestees who pose no immediate threat to the officers or others.

People have a constitutional right to assemble and protest peacefully. Journalists have a constitutional right to cover protest, whether those protests are peaceful or not. We will continue to review information to investigate these concerns, and take legal action if appropriate.”

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