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Police Complaints Board Issues Protest Monitoring Report

Friday, December 19, 2014
Board commends MPD on compliance with the First Amendment Rights and Police Standards Act

(Washington, D.C.)  – The Police Complaints Board (PCB), the governing body of the Office of Police Complaints (OPC), today submitted a report and recommendations to Mayor Vincent C. Gray, the Council of the District of Columbia, and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Cathy L. Lanier regarding MPD’s handling of the National Action Network’s "Justice for All” protest march held on Saturday, December 13, 2014.

OPC staff members, including managers, attorneys, and investigators monitored MPD’s interactions with demonstrators at the opening rally and along the protest route.  OPC’s executive director accompanied MPD’s incident commander throughout the march.

This was PCB’s fourth monitoring effort since the enactment of the First Amendment Rights and Police Standards Act of 2004 (The Act).  The Act prohibits MPD from employing crowd control tactics during protests that have the potential to deprive demonstrators of the right to assemble peaceably and express their views.

OPC’s overall impression is that MPD performed in a professional and commendable manner during the rally and the march, and effectively balanced the interests of public safety with the right to free expression.  

Based on OPC’s observations, PCB recommends MPD continue to emphasize compliance with the Act, and serve as a resource to federal agencies in the District that routinely handle First Amendment assemblies and police departments across the nation. 

Additionally, PCB recommends that MPD should remind all Department officers handling First Amendment assemblies to make sure their names and badge numbers are visible, particularly those officers required to wear mesh vests or any other coverings.

“MPD’s handling of the protest march went very well,” said Michael G. Tobin, OPC’s executive director.  “The Department showed their commitment to ensuring the public’s right to freedom of expression.”

To view a copy of PCB’s full report and recommendations, visit www.policecomplaints.dc.gov/page/policy-recommendations.