Tag Archives: city council

Take action to fight discriminatory policing! #RepealPFZs

We know that many in our communities have turned to informal economies, including engaging in sex work, to support themselves. Sex workers have long been subject to police violence and harassment. Since 2006, the Chief of DC’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has had the power to designate any public space in DC as a prostitution free zone (PFZ). In a PFZ, the police can tell anyone to leave the area or face arrest, without any concrete basis for suspicion. That’s a recipe for police profiling, and it’s time to put PFZs to an end.

We opposed PFZs when they were first introduced, and now the DC Council is considering legislation to repeal this harmful and discriminatory law, that DC’s own Attorney General has determined is unconstitutional and indefensible. On Wednesday, June 9, at 11am, the DC Council’s Judiciary Committee will be considering the repeal measure. You can follow the hearing live online. Be sure to join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #RepealPFZs.

Most importantly, DC Council members need to hear from you to support PFZ repeal. We especially need to reach Council members Jack Evans (Ward 2), Muriel Bowser (Ward 4), and Anita Bonds (At-large). Please take a quick moment to email these Council members to voice your support for ending PFZs in DC. Just copy and paste the message below!
I am writing today in support of Bill B20-760 co-introduced by Councilmembers Grosso, Catania, and Cheh and co-sponsored by Councilmembers Wells and Barry, which would repeal the discriminatory Prostitution Free Zones provision from the D.C. Code. 
 
Prostitution free zones promote the unfair profiling of DC's most vulnerable communities and create an atmosphere of mistrust toward the Metropolitan Police Department. Repealing this law will assist with the process of repairing relations between DC's trans communities and the police, and open the door for more meaningful conversation about issues related to sex work.
This bill is an essential first step in achieving our broader goal of decriminalizing sex work in DC. Your voice is essential to make sure we’re successful. And if you’d like to share your experience with PFZs or biased policing, please just reply to this email and we’ll be in touch ASAP.

April 11: Action to support Monica Jones and end Prostitution Free Zones

Join HIPS, DC Trans Coalition, GLAA, and Best Practices Policy Project and groups around the U.S. and the world standing in solidarity with Monica Jones on her trial date, April 11, 2014. We are joining this global day of action against criminalization and profiling of trans women of color, and calling on DC to repeal the discriminatory Prostitution Free Zones.

Monica Jones, a human rights defender in Arizona and an advocate for the rights of transgender people and sex workers, was profiled and wrongfully arrested for “manifestation of prostitution” by a police sting operation and anti-prostitution diversion program known as “Project ROSE”. Ms Jones had been a speaker at a rally protesting Project ROSE—which is run by Phoenix police and Arizona State University’s School of Social Work—the day before. At the time of her arrest, she was not engaging in sex work, but was in fact walking down her street to the local bar.

On April 11 at 8:30 am (U.S. Mountain Standard Time) Monica’s case will go to trial at Phoenix Municipal Court. She will plead not guilty and an action is planned outside the court to show the City of Phoenix Prosecutor that we won’t tolerate the systematic profiling and criminalization of transgender people of color and sex workers. In DC, we will rally at noon in front of the Wilson Building in solidarity with Monica and trans women of color throughout the U.S. subject to such mistreatment. We will also call on the DC Council to repeal the discriminatory Prostitution Free Zones and promote the human rights of sex workers in our city.

What: Rally against criminalization of trans women of color and for human rights of sex workers
WhenApril 11, 12pm-2pm
Where: Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

Click here to RSVP on Facebook.

DCTC joins in Community Response to Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force

Today, DCTC joined with six other DC LGBTQ community organizations in responding to the Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force report released by the Metropolitan Police Department on February 26. Taken together, the Task Force Report, MPD’s response, and the community response provide an essential starting point to improving relations between MPD and DC’s LGBTQ communities.

In the community response, we thank the Task Force for their research and findings. In general, we agree with the recommendations that the Task Force put forward. Our recommendations are designed to build upon the Task Force report by offering concrete steps that MPD and community organizations can take that, over time, will allow for positive change in how LGBTQ-police interactions occur in DC. The community response also looks beyond the issue of hate crimes to discuss response to intimate partner violence in LGBTQ relationships, interactions with LGBTQ youth, and interactions with sex workers. We look forward to engaging with MPD to begin implementing these recommendations.

Finally, the community response offers three specific recommendations to the DC Council, including:

  • Repeal Prostitution Free Zones and decriminalize sex work,
  • Strengthen the authority of the Office of Police Complaints, and
  • Hold annual hearings on marginalized community relations with MPD

UPDATE: A community forum to discuss the recommendations and next steps will be held at Casa Ruby on Wednesday, March 26, at 7:00pm. You can RSVP via facebook or by emailing vvillano@transequality.org.

To read the Community Response to the Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force, please click here (pdf).

Click here to read the Report of the Hate Crimes Assessment Task Force and MPD’s response (pdf).

Action Alert: Support Trans Health and Services in DC’s Budget

Our friends Andy Bowen and Nico Quintana with the DC Trans Economic Justice Campaign are asking for your support advancing two key DC budget proposals that will benefit trans people.

DC Council Members are voting on the annual Budget Request Act on Wednesday, May 22. There are two items in the budget that need your support TODAY to help fight for trans justice.   

DC’s Health Care Exchange 
Tell your council member to support the DC Health Care Exchange funding in the Budget Request Act.  Why- the DC Health Exchange has trans inclusive care language in it. Powerful forces have gathered to defeat DC’s health care exchange. If those folks are successful, we’ll lose local control over our health exchange, which means we could lose our battle to make sure Health Exchange-provided plans do not have trans exclusions. 

One City Fund
Tell your council member to support the proposed One City Fund. Why?  The fund will provide grant opportunities for direct service and anti-poverty organizations, some of which have trans clients.  The fund would start with an initial $15 million.

Today! Call or email Council members and say: “I am a DC resident, and I want you to continue funding the DC Health Care Exchange and the One City Fund in the Budget Request Act as is. Local control over the Health Care Exchange is vital to making sure the Exchange meets community needs, such as those of the transgender community, who need to ensure that the Exchange plans do not exclude transgender people from treatment. The One City Fund will support and expand vital services for transgender DC residents. Thank you for your time.”

DC Council members’ contact info:

The Honorable Phil Mendelson, pmendelson@dccouncil.us  (202) 724-8032
The Honorable David Catania, dcatania@dccouncil.us (202) 724-7772
The Honorable Vincent Orange, vorange@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8174
The Honorable David Grosso, dgrosso@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8105
The Honorable Anita Bonds, abonds@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8064
The Honorable Jim Graham, jgraham@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8181
The Honorable Jack Evans, jevans@dccouncil.us  (202) 724-8058
The Honorable Mary Cheh, mcheh@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8062
The Honorable Muriel Bowser, mbowser@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8052
The Honorable Kenyan McDuffie, kmcduffie@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8028
The Honorable Tommy Wells, twells@dccouncil.us (202) 724-8072
The Honorable Yvette Alexander, yalexander@dccouncil.us  (202) 724-8068
The Honorable Marion Barry, mbarry@dccouncil.us  (202) 724-8045

DCTC finds evidence of bias in MPD hate crimes review

In testimony before the DC Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety today, the DC Trans Coalition notes evidence of bias in the “independent” review of hate crimes response and LGBTQ community relations that the Metropolitan Police Department commissioned from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). DCTC obtained over 1500 pages of MPD Chief Cathy Lanier’s emails pertaining to the ADL review, which was announced last year, following DCTC’s October 2011 request for confidential mediation with MPD facilitated by the Community Relations Service of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The emails obtained include this note to Chief Lanier from David Friedman, who heads the ADL’s Mid-Atlantic Office, from November 2011, when MPD claims it was beginning discussions with the ADL about establishing an “independent” hate crimes review:

On Nov 3, 2011, at 9:00 PM, “Friedman, David” wrote:

Wouldn’t worry. The only people who don’t like you have outstanding warrants.

D

From: Lanier, Cathy (MPD)
To: Friedman, David
Subject: Re: Staying in your post
Date: Thursday, November 03, 2011 9:03:58 PM

That David, is one of the many reasons I love you…. So quick

Cathy L. Lanier
Chief of Police
Washington, D.C.

Other emails obtained show that Chief Lanier was asked to approve potential members of the ADL-led review team, which consists of four other national civil rights organizations and two academics. In our testimony today, we note:

In short, the ADL hate crimes review task force has proven itself to be both insufficient to address community concerns, and blatantly biased against us. We do not relish conflict between our communities and MPD. Yet, due to a persistent failure to listen openly to our concerns, conflict persists, and the day to day lives of trans people in DC are endangered as a result. Our concern is that the ADL-led task force is a publicity stunt rather than a good-faith effort at making progress.

We once again encourage MPD to accept our offer of confidential mediation through the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service.

Other topics included in today’s testimony include:

  • Progress towards eliminating the use of condoms as evidence in sex work cases,
  • A request on the status of the grant MPD received from Harvard University in 2006 to expand the work of the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit,
  • Ongoing issues in implementing MPD’s general order on interactions with trans people,
  • MPD’s inability to relay information about trans detainees to the U.S. Marshal’s Service, and
  • A request on the status of the suspended “prostitution-free” zones.

Our full testimony is available here.

Today’s DC Council Hearing on Hate Crimes

DCTC joined with other local LGBT organizations to testify before the DC Council’s Judiciary Committee today on hate crimes and police response. In our testimony, we stressed that in order for the Metropolitan Police Department to be able to appropriately address anti-trans violence in DC, the following steps need to be taken:

  • Addressing biased policing: There needs to be a new, comprehensive study of police bias; and trans community members need a seat at the table of MPD’s reconstituted Biased Policing Task Force.
  • Expanding training efforts: Every officer needs to be trained in how to appropriately interact with trans people; the existing training program for affiliate officers of the MPD Special Liaison Units needs to be institutionalized; and MPD must also ensure that training extends more broadly throughout the police department.
  • Strengthening communication and engagement with the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit: MPD’s LGBT Critical Incident Team, convened by GLLU, is currently used ineffectively; in addition, MPD communication out to the Critical Incident Team when violent crimes occur must be far more rapid.
  • Resolving open homicide cases: A joint MPD-community outreach plan to address the seven open trans homicides seems to have stalled, and needs to be translated into a concrete plan of action; and, in general, trans communities deserve an update on the status of these investigations, including where the roadblocks may be, so that we might be able to assist in bringing these cases to closure.

Additionally, we welcomed MPD’s new hate crimes review panel, convened by the Anti-Defamation League, but noted our dismay that there does not seem to be much room for local voices to be heard in the process. We also congratulated the Gray administration for its efforts to reduce anti-trans violence through initiatives around employment and youth bullying.

You can read our full statement here. Be sure to also check out the statements from the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance and GLOV (testimony and graphs).

TODAY! DCTC testifying before DC Council on Anti-Trans Violence; Letter sent to Mayor Gray

This morning, DCTC sent a letter to DC Mayor Vince Gray on anti-trans violence and police response, and we will be testifying before the DC Council Judiciary Committee as part of the annual oversight hearing on the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). We will also be participating in a briefing for Council members and staff on preventing anti-trans violence, including passing an implementing DC’s proposed anti-bullying bill, supporting the research being conducted through our DC Trans Needs Assessment project, and improving police accountability.

Last fall, we engaged mediators with the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service to facilitate conversations between us and the MPD, which had stalled earlier that summer, in spite of an increasing and ongoing wave of anti-trans violence. Yet to date, MPD has refused to accept or deny our request. Therefore today we are calling for increased accountability measures from the mayor and the DC Council to address the problem of anti-trans police bias, and create greater community accountability for police actions.

From our Council testimony:

As we noted at the November 2011 hearing on hate crimes and police response, we have concluded that a culture of anti-trans bias within MPD is at the root of these persistent challenges… This intrinsic bias against trans people manifests itself in several ways:

  • Failure to train all officers in how to interact appropriately with trans people,
  • Failure to devote sufficient resources to solving crimes against trans people,
  • Failure to gather adequate data on crimes involving trans people,
  • Failure to discipline officers who act inappropriately towards trans people, and
  • Increased likelihood of trans people facing arrest for non-violent crimes.

From our letter to Mayor Gray:

The changes we seek from MPD are neither radical nor overly burdensome. Our goals are as follows:

  • An immediate update on the status of investigations of violent crimes involving trans people, especially the seven unsolved homicides from the past decade. There have been more confirmed trans murders in DC than any other city in the United States since 2000, yet only about a quarter of these have been solved. However, MPD has persistently failed to explain why these cases languish, sometimes for over ten years.
  • The reestablishment of the Biased Policing Task Force, with trans representation. MPD disbanded this body in 2008, in spite of the recommendation from the Police Complaints Board and several community organizations that its work continue.
  • Verifiable discipline taken against MPD officers who violate policy related to trans people. Both 2010 and 2011 saw egregious attacks on trans people by police officers. In one case, while no criminal proceedings took place, MPD has been unable to explain whether or not the offending officer is still patrolling the streets, potentially endangering the lives of other trans people.
  • A budget and timetable for ensuring that all MPD officers receive training in interacting with trans people, using community-informed curriculum, over the course of the next 18 months.  In the first 18 months of MPD’s LGBT training program, which is run entirely by community volunteers, approximately 200 officers have been trained. At this pace, it would take over 30 years for the entire force to receive appropriate training – an entirely unacceptable time period.

Be sure to read our full letter here, and our testimony here.

The MPD oversight hearing starts this morning at 10:00am in the Room 412 at the Wilson Building. If you can’t make the hearing in person, you can watch it live on cable channel 13, or stream online here.