The murder of George Floyd by four police officers is an enraging and painful reminder that Black people and members of other marginalized communities often live in fear — even of their own government — when they leave their homes. Police brutality is a blight on our society and a powerful aspect of the deep-seated racism, particularly anti-Black racism, in this nation.
As protests around the city show, this moment is about DC, too. Three Black DC residents were killed by police in 2018 — D’Quan Young, Marqueese Alston, and Jeff Price — and yet the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) still has not released the names of the officers involved. That’s unacceptable.
I’m committed to doing something about it. We must establish clear rules for police behavior and consequences for actions that threaten or harm residents.
- We must demand the quick release of body camera footage and officers’ names after a police-involved fatality, as is done in suburban Maryland and many departments across the U.S. The families and friends of people killed by police, and the broader community, deserve this information. This transparency is key to building community trust.
- Police officers must face consequences for abusing their power. DC’s Office of Police Complaints (OPC) can make discipline recommendations but has to leave final disciplinary decisions to the MPD. OPC recommendations should be binding, and information should be shared publicly to identify officers disciplined for specific incidents.
- MPD officers must be expected to intervene when another officer engages in inappropriate treatment of residents — and they must be held accountable when they don’t do so. Standing by while another officer abuses their power to hurt DC residents can’t be tolerated.
The tragic murder of George Floyd was an individual action but one we’ve see time and again that also was fueled by systemic racism. This is the same racism that has led to huge racial inequities in income and wealth and that has left Black and Brown people suffering the most during the pandemic. It’s a reminder of why we must put racial equity at the heart of DC’s agenda every day.
Fighting for police accountability is often labeled as being anti-police. But fighting against police brutality is not radical. It’s right.