(Washington, DC) The District of Columbia’s police accountability agency, the Office of Police Complaints (OPC), recently monitored the Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPD) handling of protests against the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. The two international organizations held their spring meeting in Washington, DC last weekend.
Under the “First Amendment Rights and Police Standards Act of 2004,” the District Council authorized OPC, which is governed by the Police Complaints Board (PCB), to monitor and evaluate MPD’s management of large crowds that gather for protests or demonstrations. This legislation established policy standards for emphasizing communication and voluntary compliance, ensuring that citizens can exercise their First Amendment rights to protest peacefully.
A total of 12 OPC employees monitored protests that were held on Saturday, April 25, 2009. The staff members operated in six teams along the protest route. OPC employees were equipped with digital cameras, audio recorders, notebooks, and agency hotline cards for distribution, if needed.
One of the larger demonstrations began in downtown Washington and ended close to the IMF headquarters located between 19th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. MPD officers arrested six people and charged another later in the day for vandalizing two banks earlier that morning.
“Our agency will prepare a report about what we observed while monitoring last weekend’s protests,” said Philip K. Eure, OPC’s executive director. “We are committed to ensuring that members of the public can exercise their First Amendment rights to demonstrate lawfully in the nation’s capital.”
For additional information or questions, please contact OPC’s public affairs specialist, Nykisha Cleveland at (202) 727-3838.