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Breitbart—a website for the White nationalist “alt-right”, whose co-founder Steve Bannon once described it as such—paid a visit to the Metropolitan Police Department on Saturday. Breitbart was there to document residents donating food to officers at the Second District Station in Northwest, and one such resident espoused anti-Black racist rhetoric while on camera. 

MPD posted a tweet about residents visiting and tagged Breitbart in the post. The tweet was shared online for mere minutes until the department removed it and reposted a tweet about the visit without any mention of Breitbart. Judah Ariel, a local lawyer, captured a screenshot of the now deleted tweet, which was widely circulated online. MPD did not respond directly to this reporter’s question about why it deleted this tweet.     

The visit comes as D.C., along with the rest of the country, reckons with anti-Black racism and police brutality. Police Chief Peter Newsham has used every opportunity, whether in testimony to the Council or in media interviews, to defend his department against the criticism of the moment. “They forgot about our 20 years of reform and they insulted us by insinuating that we are in need of reform,” he told his officers. But residents who learned of MPD welcoming Breitbart see it as yet another example of why they distrust police. 

Breitbart documented the visit as a show of support for the police. The site’s staff interviewed individuals who were there to donate food to the Second District Station: Nestride Yumga, a woman who’s used conservative news to criticize Black Lives Matter, and Marya Pickering, a Republican running for an at-large Council seat. In addition to publishing an article about the visit, Breitbart published a live stream where Yumga is seen talking about “black on black” crime—a right-wing, racist talking point used to deflect attention from police misconduct. Just after getting her photo taken with officers, Yumga makes the racist, false claim about Black people: “We have the most violent race in America.”   

Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen wrote Newsham, along with Public Safety and Justice Deputy MayorKevin Donahue, to ask why MPD thought it was appropriate to invite Breitbart. “[T]he Department must disavow the visit and any association with white supremacist media,” said Allen in the letter dated June 28.

Protesters spotted Newsham and Mayor Muriel Bowser eating at an outdoor restaurant Monday morning and asked about Breitbart visiting MPD. Neither public official commented.

City Paper asked MPD about the visit. Here’s what a department spokesperson said via email: “On Saturday, MPD was approached by DC community members who wanted to show their appreciation by donating food to our officers. We welcomed them into our community room as we do with most guests who provide donations. MPD was not aware of the plans to post a live interview during the donation. MPD condemns and does not support the statements made by the individuals in the video nor is MPD affiliated with any political party or news organization. MPD is committed to safeguarding DC residents and visitors, regardless of race, religion, orientation, identity, or political views.”

MPD clearly knew Breitbart was at one of its police stations, seeing as it tweeted about it, but declined to respond to this reporter’s specific question on whether the department thought it was appropriate given it’s a website for White nationalists.—Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com)

CITY DESK LINKS, by Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com

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