(Washington, DC) The Police Complaints Board (PCB), the governing body of the Office of Police Complaints (OPC), today submitted a report and recommendations to Mayor Anthony A. Williams, the Council of the District of Columbia, and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Charles H. Ramsey regarding MPD's handling of the antiwar and anti-globalization protests held in September 2005.
The District of Columbia added the authority to monitor and evaluate MPD’s handling of protests and demonstrations to PCB’s jurisdiction through the First Amendment Rights and Police Standards Act of 2004, a law that took effect in April 2005. Under the provisions of this Act, OPC monitored MPD’s interactions with protesters during the demonstrations that took place in the District of Columbia between Thursday, September 22, 2005, and Monday, September 26, 2005. The protests attracted an estimated 150,000 people from across the nation and were the first major events to take place in Washington following the enactment of the new law.
A total of 12 OPC employees, including many of the agency’s investigators, monitored MPD’s interactions with protesters throughout the day on Saturday, September 24, 2005. OPC employees monitored in teams along the protest route, as well as in the main command center and with police officials in the field.
OPC’s overall impression was that MPD performed in a professional manner and had constructive dealings with the protesters. MPD’s general interactions with the public appeared helpful and respectful. In several instances, OPC employees observed MPD officers making accommodations to protesters, such as moving police vehicles and barricades to allow protesters to proceed down streets that had not been initially cordoned off.
“It was OPC’s first time observing MPD’s handling of demonstrations and things generally went very well,” said Philip K. Eure, OPC’s executive director. “What we saw confirmed that good policing can be consistent with the public’s right to freedom of expression.”
Based on its findings, PCB recommended that the Mayor, the Council, and MPD find ways to make all officers’ names and badge numbers more visible, examine street closing procedures, and review MPD’s policy regarding arrest of demonstrators whom officers observe engaging in illegal activity.
PCB's report and recommendations are available online:
For additional information or questions regarding the report and recommendations, please contact OPC's public affairs specialist, Melanie Deggins, at (202) 727-3838.