ANC 6B elected new officers. Present were: Jennifer Samolyk (6B01), Gerald Sroufe (6B02, Secretary), Brian Ready (6B03, Parliamentarian), Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04), Steve Holtzman (6B05), Corey Holman (6B06, Treasurer), Kelly Waud (6B07), Chander Jayaraman (6B08, Chair), Kasie Clark (6B09, Vice Chair) and Denise Krepp (6B10).
MPD Presentation on ‘Stop and Frisk’ of Three Boys
Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) First District Commander Morgan Kane briefed the January meeting of ANC 6B on a Dec. 22nd incident when seven officers detained three black youth near Frager’s Hardware (1323 E St. SE). That interaction was filmed over the course of about an hour by Hill resident Ariel Gory. Parts of the video were posted to social media.
The incident began at around 1:30 p.m. Dec. 22 when police responded to bystander reports of an elderly man being followed into the 12th Street SE CVS. The caller said the man was being threatened by three children in possession of a knife and provided a description of the three children involved.
Three boys were initially stopped on the 1300 block of E Street by members of the MPD Bicycle Unit. The officers accompanied the three boys back to the CVS. En route, four more officers stopped the group, questioning the boys further just outside of Frager’s Hardware. The three boys were held by the seven officers for nearly an hour before they were released to the custody of parents and guardians.
The man at CVS declined to press charges or file a report.
Community members were outraged at what they saw as an excessive number of officers –seven officers to stop three boys—as well as the length of detention. Many said the stop was an example of the criminalization of black boys.
Attendees questioned why seven armed officers were necessary to question three young boys. Kane said this had happened in part because two separate units responded to the incident. A four-member bicycle unit that travels as a team initially stopped the boys. A second unit of officers interviewed the elderly man near the CVS. After the man left to return home, the second unit met up with the bicycle unit and the boys.
Attendees from Black Lives Matter (BLM) DC and Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ DC) appeared to state their opinion that such officer interactions were a result of prejudice and were damaging to young black boys. One mother said she worried her 16-year-old son would be killed.
Maurice Cook, Executive Director of Serve Your City DC, implored Kane. “Please listen and hear that black people are being criminalized in this community.”
Kane said that the stop was not random. She said the children were questioned by the police because they matched the radio description of three boys involved in what was then believed to be a potentially violent crime.
Kane said that the children were in the custody of officers for about 40 minutes total, the bulk of that time spent waiting for parents to arrive.
Kane acknowledged that there were problems with the tone of at least two of the officers but said that they were not disciplined. Calling it a training opportunity, she said she had spoken with the officers.
However, Kane defended the decision to stop the three minors, saying that the children were believed to possess a knife and that officers were unsure at the time if the case was an armed robbery or assault. “What would you have me do?” she said. “We had a potentially violent crime, we had to at least question them.”
Noting that she was raising her own son in the First District, Kane said that the last thing that MPD wanted was for children to think they were not there to protect them or did not want them to succeed in school. “We’re not going to fix this without working together,” she said, offering to conduct outreach and work with members of the community.
Community members made it clear that the failure to release footage from officer body cameras was a key issue for them. In late December, Commissioner Denise Krepp (ANC 6B10) submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to view the video, and was sent a bill to redact the video in excess of $5,000.
When Krepp requested the fee be waived, citing her status as an elected official, police responded by saying that juvenile police records are confidential and cannot be disclosed. At the meeting, FOIA Officer Inspector Vendette Parker said that redactions are necessary when body worn cameras pick up information from the radios also worn by officers, as well as to obscure identities of people passing by.
Community member Zack Weinstein said that these regulations rendered the body worn camera virtually pointless for the community looking to hold officers accountable. “At the end of the day, almost any recording could be disqualified,” he said.
Short Term Housing Rental
Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) spoke on the Short-Term Rental Regulation and Affordable Housing Protection Act, which impacts rentals on platforms such as Air BnB. The legislation was given final approval in November 2018 but will not be fully enforced until October 2019 or when fully funded, whichever is later. The Zoning Commission has been asked to resolve a problem with a regulation forbidding short-term rentals in residential zones, but the Chairman said the law could be enforced regardless. Mendelson said the law created new license requirements for short-term units and restricts rentals of primary residences to 90 days while absent (there is no limit when homeowners are present). Those who can demonstrate that employment or family situations require them to leave the District for more than 90 days a year can apply for a hardship exemption to the cap. This means people can rent out basement units, but cannot rent out a second home.
In other business, the ANC voted to:
Support a request from Little Pearl (Carriage House at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) to amend the license to allow an extension of Sunday business hours from 9 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.;
Support a Historic Preservation Application (HPA) 9-0-1 for 628 A St. SE to add a two-story rear and side addition with one story rooftop addition and an arched walkway from front to rear on entry level in the side yard. Commissioner Oldenburg, who generally opposes the closure of side yards, abstained;
Support an HPA application for a rear addition to 302 South Carolina Ave. SE. The application had been heard previously with a third story; that had been removed and the space reclaimed by extending a rear addition by two and a half feet. Passed 9-0-1 (Commissioner Ready abstaining).
The ANC opposed an application from the owner of 121 Seventh St. SE by a vote of (6-4). The plans as presented to the ANC Planning and Zoning Committee called for a third story and rear addition. The applicant had modified the plans to address concerns with mass, removal of cornice and windows. After some discussion, the ANC voted to oppose the application because of concerns with the front door and rear window configuration and the third story window treatment.
The next meeting of ANC 6B will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 12 at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital (921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE). Visit anc6b.org for more info, or find @ANC6B on Twitter.