Dear DC Council Judiciary Committee,
My name is Logan Bayroff and I’m a Ward 1 resident. I am testifying today because Black lives matter, and because I want to live in a city in which the government acts to genuinely serve all DC residents, instead of empowering the MPD to harass and abuse them.
I’m a member of Jews United for Justice, a community of thousands of Jews and allies committed to advancing social, racial, and economic justice in DC. As our city grapples with the systemic and institutional racism recently highlighted by the killing of Deon Kay by MPD, I ask that the DC Council do everything in its power to protect residents, hold the police fully accountable for their actions, and take immediate steps to curtail their most dangerous practices. I urge the council to defund MPD and instead use our taxpayer funds to invest in programs, policies, and practices that truly improve lives, help those in need and keep people safe. The Council should implement the important and detailed recommendations being made by community-led institutions like Black Lives Matter DC, ACLU-DC and DC Justice Lab.
As a privileged white man in this city, I feel appalled and ashamed at the aggressive deployment of police to harass, surveil, intimidate, incarcerate and even kill black and brown residents, all in order to ostensibly “protect” citizens like me and to maintain a false and harmful version of public order. I will feel safer in my home and in my neighborhood when all DC residents feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods, and when our city’s resources are used to provide desperately-needed economic support, healthcare and affordable housing for all struggling DC residents, instead of to target and punish them.
The bills on the table today are important pieces of legislation to increase community safety by limiting police powers, and I’m testifying in support. At the same time, it is important that the council go further, heeding the overwhelming desire of district residents to see the police force demilitarized, reduced, restrained and ultimately defunded.
In particular, I urge the council to definitively ban discriminatory, dangerous police practices including stop-and-frisk, jump-outs, no-knock warrants, neck restraints, police interrogation of minors, invasive searches, and the use of military weapons and harmful, invasive surveillance tools.
According to MPD’s own data, black youth have been subjected to stop and frisk at 10 times the rate of their white peers. Jump-outs by plain clothes police officers turn black DC residents into sudden targets in their own city. No-knock warrants have led to horrific and utterly unnecessary police violence nationwide, as in the terrifying murder of Breonna Taylor. Advanced surveillance technologies create oppressive, stigmatizing environments in which every community member is treated like a prospective criminal.
These are the tactics of a police state and an occupying army — not of a safe, democratic city in which all citizens have equal rights and in which Black Lives Matter.
As a city, we are at a crossroads. The council can choose to protect and serve the residents of our city by choosing to fully prioritize and fund programs and measures that actually improve people’s lives. It can choose to insist that in this city, the people have full control over the actions and uses of the police department.
Or the council can choose to allow the police department to continue to act with relative impunity, as the private army of those who cruelly and falsely believe that the harassment, surveillance, and oppression of our neighbors somehow make the rest of our city safer.
Councilmembers, I hope you will make the right choices. The people of this city are watching.
Thank you for your time and for the opportunity to testify.