ACLU Accuses D.C. Police
Of Blocking Video Release
The Washington, D.C. chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is accusing the Metropolitan Police Department of trying to block the release of stop-and-frisk video the organization seeks while it investigates suspicions of racial bias.
The ACLU is asking for information about the race or ethnicity of persons subjected to traffic stops in a Freedom of Information Act request. D.C. law requires the police to keep records of suspects’ racial background.
The police responded that the information could be collected only be reviewing 31,521 five-minute videos of the police stops. The MPD offered to turn over information from the video to the ACLU but only if it would pay more than $3.6 million.
“Based on a prior bill we received from MPD for body-worn camera footage production at $23 per minute of video, the bill for 31,521 five-minute videos would exceed $3.6 million: a preposterous amount to get access to data that should be free to the public,” said Scott Michelman, the ACLU of the District of Columbia’s legal co-director.
Michelman is lead counsel in at lawsuit, Black Lives Matter D.C. v. Bowser, that alleges violations of the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act. The pending lawsuit was filed in D.C. Superior Court in May 2018.
The D.C. Council passed the NEAR Act in 2016 to help reduce an alarming rise in homicides. One part of the Act requires training for MPD officers on community policing, bias-free policing and cultural competency. It also requires surveys and data collection to assess the relationship between MPD and District residents, which includes tracking trends in crime, police stops and use of force.
D.C. Attorney General Joins Suit
Against T-Mobile-Sprint Merger
The District of Columbia’s attorney general joined nine states in filing a lawsuit last week to block a planned merger of telecommunications giants T-Mobile and Sprint.
They argue the merger would violate antitrust laws, threaten healthy competition and hurt service to consumers.
The $26 billion merger is winning support from the Federal Communications Commission but words of warning from the Justice Department.
“This anticompetitive merger will harm every District resident with a cell phone plan, especially our lower-income consumers, for whom even a small price increase can mean not having cell service at all,” D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement. “If this merger is allowed to go through, it will lead to higher prices and lower quality wireless service across the board for all District consumers, not just those who use Sprint or T-Mobile.”
Racine’s opinion is different from the FCC, which has said the deal would create greater efficiencies and lead to improved service for consumers, such as next-generation wireless services called 5G. The FCC is scheduled for a vote on the T-Mobile-Sprint merger next month.
Book on Boston Marathon Bombs
Shows Lone Wolf Terrorism Rises
A new book that reports on the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and trial of the convicted killer shows the attack was only an early example of more coming soon.
Boston's Bloody Marathon uses the bombings by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother as an example of the lone wolf terrorism increasingly encouraged by Islamic extremist groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda.
Lone wolves refer to terrorists who plot their attacks alone, usually with no organization to support them and no official links to violent groups. There is almost no way to know their next target until they strike. U.S. intelligence agencies call them perhaps the biggest terrorist threat to the United States and its allies.
Boston's Bloody Marathon, by Tom Ramstack, is available on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.
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Letters to the Editor
D.C. Prep School Student Appeals
After Poor References to Colleges
A former Washington, D.C. high school student is awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court decision on whether to grant her a hearing on her complaint that her prestigious prep school forced her into an inferior college.
She says racism explains the mediocre grades and references to colleges she received from Sidwell Friends School.
The petition filed by Dayo Adetu says she "was the only student in her graduating class of 126 students who did not receive unconditional acceptance from any educational institution to which she applied.”
Sidwell Friends is an elite private school whose students have included Chelsea Clinton, both daughters of former President Barack Obama and the granddaughter of former Vice President Joe Biden.
Adetu, an African-American, said in her Supreme Court petition that "Sidwell has long been perceived as a 'feeder-school' to Ivy League institutions and other top universities."
She initially applied to top-tier universities like Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Cornell and Johns Hopkins. She was rejected by all of them.
During her second round of applications, she was accepted by the University of Pennsylvania in 2015. She has since graduated.
The D.C. Court of Appeals ruled in January Adetu appears to be claiming emotional damages but that she failed to show "any adverse action taken by Sidwell."ashington’s attorney general is suing six Maryland parents he accuses of lying about their residency to get free tuition for their children in D.C. schools.
Supreme Court Says Bladensburg Cross
Can Stay on Public Land as a Memorial
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a World War I memorial cross can remain on public land at an intersection in Bladensburg, Maryland.
The cross "has become a prominent community landmark, and its removal or radical alteration at this date would be seen by many not as a neutral act but as the manifestation of a hostility toward religion that has no place in our Establishment Clause traditions," the court’s majority opinion says.
The court ruled on a challenge from the American Humanist Association, which filed a lawsuit asking that the 40-foot high concrete Bladensburg Peace Cross be taken down. The group argued that a Christian cross on public land maintained at taxpayer expense represented government recognition of a religious denomination.
The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment forbids the government from taking formal action “respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
A federal appeals court agreed with the American Humanist Association. The appeals court ruled the cross should be moved to a private location and taxpayer funding should cease.
D.C. in Brief
Big Referral Fees
For Little Work
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Convicted National Security Advisor
Hires New Attorney Before Sentencing
Former national security advisor Michael Flynn recently hired a new Washington, D.C. attorney to represent him as he faces sentencing on a charge of lying during the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
He dumped Big Law firm Covington & Burling LLP to replace them with Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor who accused the special counsel of a conspiracy against President Donald Trump.
Powell has called special counsel Robert Mueller and his team "creeps on a mission" to take down the president.
"Attorney Powell is honored to represent General Flynn, and he will continue to cooperate with the government in all matters," Powell’s office said in a statement.
While he still was represented by Covington & Burling, Flynn pleaded guilty to giving false statements to the special counsel’s investigators about his discussions with Russia’s ambassador. He also agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team.