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Police officers pepper spray a group of protestors before the inauguration of then-President elect Trump Jan. 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Zach Gibson/AFP via Getty Images

The D.C. government agreed Monday to a $1.6 million settlement in two lawsuits that alleged police unlawfully detained over 200 protesters and other constitutional violations during former President Trump's January 2017 inauguration.

Driving the news: The suits accuse Metropolitan Police Department officers and then-Police Chief Peter Newsham of being responsible for the "mass arrests of demonstrators without probable cause, unlawful conditions of confinement for detainees, and/or use of excessive force," per a statement from the ACLU.

  • The civil cases, brought by the ACLU and attorney Jefferey Light on behalf of protesters, allege that police violated the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments, as well as D.C. law.
  • They accuse police of rounding up and detaining 200-plus protesters "without access to food, water, or restrooms for up to 16 hours," despite only a small number of demonstrators causing damage during the protests.
"Officers also deployed pepper spray, flash-bang grenades, concussion grenades, and stingballs — explosive devices that release smoke, rubber pellets, and a chemical irritant within a radius of approximately 50 feet—against protesters and others both on the street ... without warning and in circumstances where there was no threat of harm to officers or the public."
— Excerpt from ACLU's statement

Of note: The city's Police Complaints Board stated in a February 2017 report to Mayor Muriel Bowser on the conduct of police on Trump's Inauguration Day that "while in many instances MPD conducted activities in a constitutional manner, there are several instances where the observations made by [the Office of Police Complaints] cause concern and raise questions."

  • The only convictions that eventuated from the 234 Inauguration Day arrests were for 21 people who pleaded guilty before trial, the Washington Post reports.

The other side: When asked at a news conference to comment on the settlement, Bowser said: "We settled the matter."

  • Representatives for Bowser and the MPD did not immediately respond to Axios' requests for comment.

Go deeper

Four police officers who responded to Capitol riot have died by suicide

U.S. Capitol Police, Michael Fanone, right, looks on as U.S. Capitol Police officer Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, left, testifies before the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack. Photo: Oliver Contreras-Pool/Getty Images

Four police police officers who responded to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot have died by suicide, according to the WUSA9, a CBS affiliate in the city.

Driving the news: D.C. Metropolitan Officer Kyle DeFreytag, who served in the Fifth District and responded to the Capitol riot, was found dead on July 10. DeFreytag joined the department in 2016, per CNN.

Congress to award Congressional Gold Medals to officers who protected Capitol

Photo: DEA/M. Borchi/Contributor via Getty Images

The Senate passed a bill via unanimous consent on Tuesday to award four Congressional Gold Medals to the Capitol Police and other law enforcement officers who responded to the Jan. 6 riot.

Details: Medals will be awarded to the Capitol Police and to the D.C. Metropolitan Police. Another medal will be displayed at the Smithsonian to honor the officers who responded to the riot, and a fourth will be put on display in the Capitol building.

Aug 3, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

National Night Out block parties return to the Twin Cities

Photo courtesy of National Night Out

COVID-19 wiped out many of last summer's National Night Out block parties, but neighbors across the country are heading back to the streets tonight.

How it works: Neighbors who register with their cities can typically block off a street to hold a potluck.

Why it matters: It's a great way to meet and reconnect with your community.

  • NNO has also historically been a time when officers visit neighborhoods and build relationships. But it comes as police-community relations have changed dramatically nationwide in recent years, particularly following the murder of George Floyd.

By the numbers: In Minneapolis, residents have registered 1,407 block parties, which is more than the 1,371 events held in the pre-pandemic 2019, according to city spokesperson Casper Hill. (About 1,000 registered for a makeup National Night Out in September 2020, he said.)

  • St. Paul has 285 registrations for NNO parties this year, up from 86 last year but still down from 379 in 2019, said St. Paul Police Department spokesperson Steve Linders.

What they're saying: Linders said the police department is planning a typical number of officer visits to parties.

  • "Officers really look forward to visiting the events," he said.
  • Minneapolis police will also make appearances, said spokesperson John Elder. Though, they likely won't be able to attend as many given the officer shortage, he said.

Meanwhile, critics of traditional policing are hosting their own counter-programming, billed as an opportunity to "redefine and re-imagine what public safety means for our communities."

  • The Yes 4 Minneapolis campaign, which is backing a November charter amendment to disband MPD and replace it with a new division of public safety, is holding an afternoon event as part of the competing Night Out for Safety and Liberation.
  • While some supporters will host their own community events, others are encouraged to bring the message back to NNO gatherings, spokesperson JaNaé Bates told us.
  • "Just having a one-off day in the middle of summer in the hope that will smooth over decades of harm between police entities and communities isn't useful," Bates said. "But what is really great is having a time for neighbors to connect with each other."

What else is different: There's a pandemic still going on, and some block parties are skipping the potluck.

📸 Are you participating in National Night Out or an alternative event?