In Letter to D.C. Police, ACLU Warns of Possible Constitutional Violations at IMF Protests

April 16, 2000 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON–The American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area today released a letter advising police of possible civil liberties violations in connection with ongoing protests at meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund here.

“We want to bring to your immediate attention complaints we have received concerning the conditions under which persons arrested yesterday were detained,” the ACLU said in a letter signed by ACLU affiliate director Mary Jane DeFrank.

The complaints include reports of no access to restroom facilities, food and water; no access to attorneys; and misleading legal advice by police officers given to those arrested.

In an advertisement published in local papers last week, the ACLU signalled its intention to take action if constitutional rights were threatened or violated during the non-violent protests.

“The D.C. police should not assume that because there was some violence in Seattle there will be violence here,” the ACLU said, referring to the World Trade Organization demonstrations in Seattle last fall. “We hope that the demonstrators will respect the law. We expect that the police will obey the law, whether or not the demonstrators do.”

The ACLU’s letter to Police Chief Charles Ramsey follows.

April 16, 2000

By Facsimile

Charles Ramsey, Chief
Metropolitan Police Department
Washington, DC 20001

Re: Detention of Demonstrators

Dear Chief Ramsey:

As the demonstrations unfold today, we want to bring to your immediate attention complaints we have received concerning the conditions under which persons arrested yesterday were detained.

  • No access to restroom facilities, food and water: Some persons reportedly were detained on buses for extended periods without being permitted to use restrooms or have food and water.
  • No access to attorneys: Some persons in detention facilities reportedly were denied access to legal representation.
  • Misleading legal advice by police officers: MPD police officers reportedly told arrested persons that they would have to post and forfeit or remain in custody until Tuesday. Such advice would be intimidating and misleading as the court is operating on an emergency basis to process those arrested.

Please issue instructions to all law enforcement personnel to ensure that such problems do not reoccur during the course of the demonstrations, today and tomorrow.

Thank you.


Mary Jane DeFrank
Executive Director
ACLU of the National Capital Area

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