Georgetown resident and lawyer Don Crockett sent a formal letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser decrying certain protests in Georgetown, as well as the May 31 looting that followed the downtown protests.
Citing the July 25 incident at Wisconsin Avenue and Q Street with a small group of protesters that surrounded one woman’s car, Crockett also referred to the July 26 incident at Thomas Sweet ice cream shop, where customers left their outside seats as protesters yelled and used noise machines.
Crockett hopes to get explanations from the mayor, the Metropolitan Police Department and others on these incidents.
Below is Crockett’s letter to the mayor as submitted, in full.
DON W. CROCKETT
ATTORNEY AT LAW
August 3, 2020
Muriel Bowser, Mayor
District of Columbia
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
RE: Failure of the District of Columbia to enforce the “First Amendment Assemblies Act of 2004” and protect residents from criminal assault.
Dear Mayor Bowser,
On Saturday May 31, 2020, I watched in helpless horror as a store, only two blocks from my home, was broken into and looted. That same night, more than 57 businesses in Georgetown were vandalized and looted. Three weeks later, on June 20, 2020, an out-of-control mob pulled down the statue of Albert Pike at Judiciary Square.
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is one of the finest, if not the best police department in the United States. I am therefore sure that the MPD would not have permitted that carnage to take place unless you and other officials in the DC government had not expressly ordered them to stand down and allow it to happen. I understand from other sources that the MPD has, indeed, been ordered not to enforce the law with respect to those who are purportedly exercising their Constitutional rights to “peacefully protest.” Your direction to allow this chaos to continue is contrary to District of Columbia law as well as common sense.
This lack of proper law enforcement has only emboldened other protestors to take to the streets and assault innocent bystanders. Last week a group of “protesters” once again descended on Georgetown to unlawfully block traffic and assault innocent bystanders. The fact are as follows:
On Saturday, July 25, 2020, a young protest organizer, Julia Clark, Twitter @jc_1303, and her followers, seized control of the busy intersection at Q Street and Wisconsin Avenue NW that is tightly controlled by D.C. traffic lights. The stated purpose of that vigilante (small mob) action was to block all traffic for the purpose of “punishing” people they regarded as “privileged.” The vigilantes, of course, had no clue as to the identity of the hapless, random, motorists and pedestrians they intended to punish for being “privileged” with their unlawful blockade. When a woman driver attempted to avoid that unlawful blockade by cutting through the Georgetown Exxon station, the mob assaulted her, jumped on her car, pounded on the windows and broke her rear-view mirror. The woman was obviously scared to death until the police belatedly arrived to rescue her. Photo clips of that confrontation are available on the websites of the Georgetowner, Red State, and Ms. Clark’s Twitter page @jc_1303.
Although police officers from the Special Operations Division (SOD) were apparently on site and “monitoring” that vigilante operation, they failed to arrest the vigilantes who unlawfully took control of that busy intersection and assaulted an innocent driver. As a result, Julia Clark and her band of “privilege punishers” returned to the intersection of Wisconsin and P Street on Sunday evening to blockade that intersection and assault diners at Thomas Sweet by pushing sirens, drums, and other noise makers into their faces. The film clip of the Thomas Sweet assault may be found on the “Daily Caller” website. Again, no arrests were made.
The Georgetowner reports that [the Georgetown Business Improvement District] informed them as follows:
“Last night there was a similar protest on Wisconsin Avenue that caused the street to be closed for a portion of the evening. We anticipate that this may occur again. It is our goal to ensure that peaceful protesters in Georgetown are welcomed and treated with respect. While protests can be disruptive, they are constitutionally protected speech and we want to ensure that Georgetown is perceived as a place that is welcoming to all. If you are concerned about your business, you should consider being present. If you see any criminal activity — you should immediately call 911.”
What?? If the statement in bold is accurate, it directly contradicts the precise language of the “First Amendment Assemblies Act of 2004 (Assemblies Act).” Unfortunately, you and other City Council Members have apparently instructed the MPD to ignore the Assemblies Act and look the other way when protesters commit crimes. By definition under the Assemblies Act, “peaceful protesters” cannot be disruptive or commit crimes such as assault, as the above statement fails to acknowledge. Moreover, vigilante protesters who usurp the power of the police to control traffic and then assault residents have no “constitutional protection” whatsoever and should not be “welcomed” in Georgetown or anywhere else in the District.
Section 5-331.03 of The Assemblies Act provides that groups have the right to participate in peaceful First Amendment assemblies, “subject to reasonable restrictions designed to protect public safety, persons, and property, and to accommodate the interests of persons not participating in the assemblies to use the streets, sidewalks and other public ways to travel to their intended destinations.” Moreover, §5-331.07 provides that “Nothing in this subsection is intended to restrict the authority of the MPD to arrest persons who engage in unlawful disorderly conduct, or violence directed at persons or property.”
Accordingly, had the MPD been permitted to properly enforce the law, Ms. Clark and her vigilantes would have been arrested when they blockaded the intersection of Wisconsin and Q and assaulted the woman at the Exxon station. Instead, the following evening, Ms. Clark and her mob felt free to blockade the intersection of Wisconsin and P and assault patrons at Thomas Sweet.
The Assemblies Act requires groups who wish to peacefully protest to obtain a permit from the MPD in advance. Were permits requested for those two nights in Georgetown and what, if any, restrictions were on those permits? If no permits were issued, why weren’t the vigilantes arrested for protesting without a permit?
We citizens employ the police to maintain law and order for the benefit of “all law-abiding people” at “all times.” The Assemblies Act provides no exceptions for disruptions or crimes committed in the course of “peaceful demonstrations.” When protesters, like anyone else, break the law, disrupt traffic, and assault innocent people, they should not be “welcomed” but arrested and punished so they will not commit such unlawful acts in the future. In my view, you as Mayor, are responsible for ensuring that all provisions of the Assemblies Act are faithfully and fully enforced by the MPD. I would appreciate hearing your views on that responsibility in light of the latest two incidents in Georgetown.
By a copy of this letter I am requesting the Inspector General for the District of Columbia, to initiate a formal investigation of these two unfortunate incidents in Georgetown and determine why the MPD was not allowed to perform its statutory duties under the Assemblies Act.
Don W. Crockett
cc Peter Newsham, Chief of Police
Karl A. Racine, Attorney General
Phil Mendelson, Chairman, D.C. City Council
All City Council Members