As we wrap up 2022 and look ahead toward 2023, we want to share some updates with you and invite you to catch up on all things ACLU-D.C. at acludc.org. <[link removed]> Here are some highlights of our most recent work defending and advancing civil rights and liberties in D.C.
Police Reform Legislation
On December 20, the D.C. Council is very likely to pass a set of significant reforms to policing in the District. On December 6, Council unanimously voted to pass the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act of 2021 (B24-0320), which takes meaningful steps to limit dangerous police practices and increase transparency and accountability. For example, the bill bans neck restraints and mandates a public police misconduct database. Although we generally support this bill, we sent this letter <[link removed]> to council members detailing the amendments needed to strengthen these reforms. One significant component missing from the bill is a way to hold police accountable when they violate people's First Amendment rights at rallies. Currently, people have no way to address such harm. Adding a private right of action to this bill would allow people to sue when the police break the law. The second vote on the bill is on December 20, so please contact your council member today at (202) 724-8000 <tel:2027248000> and tell them to include a private right of action in B24-320. Next Tuesday, you can watch the second vote on the Council's website. <[link removed]>
Street Vending Decriminalization
We have been organizing with street vendors urging the D.C. Council to pass the Street Vending Decriminalization Amendment Act (B24-49). This bill would remove the criminal penalties that our neighbors face for trying to make a living. Whether it's sharing flavors from Latin America and the Caribbean, or offering clothing, lotions, and art, street vendors add to the vibrant cultural landscape in the District. But street vending without expensive and elusive permits is currently criminalized, exposing vendors and their families to harassment and arrests by D.C. police. To push the bill, we sent a letter <[link removed]> to Council Chair Mendelson, organized call-ins <[link removed]> that filled Mendelson's voicemail, and supported a pop-up vending action <[link removed]> at the Council. Although this bill will not pass this session, our power-building has pushed the issue to be front and center next year. Learn more in this video <[link removed]> on our Instagram, connect with our partners at Beloved Community Incubator, <[link removed]> and stay tuned for ways to get involved.
Black Lives Matter Appeal
On November 23, we told a federal appeals court to reject total immunity for federal officers responsible for the brutal attack <[link removed]> on racial justice demonstrators at Lafayette Square in 2020. Although the Trump Administration acknowledged that then-Attorney General William Barr gave the order to disperse the demonstrators, in 2021, a federal court dismissed all claims seeking monetary compensation from federal officers for the demonstrators' injuries. The court reasoned that because presidential security concerns are always implicated by any federal law enforcement activity in Lafayette Square Park across the street from the White House, no claims for constitutional violations may proceed, no matter how severe the harm or grave the violations. We have appealed because this dismissal effectively creates a Constitution-free zone in the heart of the Nation's capital. Learn more about the Black Lives Matter D.C. v. Trump case on our website. <[link removed]>
D.C. STATEHOOD: We're Getting Closer
We're thrilled to share our new website for our campaign for D.C. Statehood! Check it out at DCStatehoodNow.org <[link removed]>. The site outlines how achieving statehood for D.C. is essential for equal and fair voting rights, racial justice, public health, and for the District to have the power to make decisions about our own budget. Over the last year, we've kept up the momentum–raising awareness in states across the country; collaborating with our local partners. We also talked with D.C. residents about how our lack of statehood impacts us personally, including how the overturning of Roe v. Wade has put our abortion rights at risk. Sign up to get the latest updates and see how to get involved when the D.C. statehood bill gets reintroduced early next year. <[link removed]>
Sign Up <[link removed]>
These are just a few ways that we've been working toward justice at the end of this year. When we right historical wrongs in these ways, we move toward freedom together. We at the ACLU-D.C are excited and honored to build toward a just and free D.C. with you next year, and for many years to come.