The Metropolitan Police Department used chemical irritants on protesters Monday evening, according to the Post and DCist. This is at least the second time during weeks of protesting against anti-Black racism and police brutality where MPD officers deployed pepper spray to control crowds. And public health experts have repeatedlywarned that the use of chemical irritants can accelerate the spread of the coronavirus and possibly increase the severity of COVID-19.  

Police Chief Peter Newsham confirmed the use of pepper spray to the Post. A confrontation ensued between protesters and officers after MPD, along with other city agencies, tried to remove tents along H Street NW near Black Lives Matter Plaza. “They were creating a potential safety hazard,” Newsham told the Post. “We can’t have people setting up tents on public streets.” Newsham also told the Post that two officers were assaulted during the confrontation, and police arrested two individuals in the aftermath. 

Imagesshared by Post reporter Fredrick Kunkle show U.S. Park Police in riot gear and the reporter says they used pepper spray and batons to stop protesters from toppling down the statue of Andrew Jackson, the president responsible for the forced removal and killing of tens of thousands of Native Americans and hero of President Donald Trump. One protester, whose tweet went viral, alleged that an MPD officer hit her in the knee with his baton after she recorded two officers pressing down on a protester as he shouts “I can’t breath” and “help”. DCist reporter Margaret Bartheltweeted out images of protesters who were trying to recover after being pepper sprayed. “Just interviewed a history teacher who had a big egg on his head from what he said was a police baton. Also had big bruises on legs from what he thought were rubber bullets,” tweeted Barthel. “Said ‘We’re out here tonight, and we’re going to be out here every night.’”  

Images of Monday night were reminiscent of those from earlier this month when MPD officers, along with federal agents, used chemical irritants to control protesters and enforce the mayor’s curfew. Newsham confirmed the use of pepper spray on protesters who sought shelter from his officers in homes along Swan Street NW June 1. The ACLU is currently investigating what happened on Swann Street NW, after protesters and other eye witnesses alleged troubling practices including police kettling. MPD is also doing its own internal review. 

The Council barred MPD from using chemical irritants “to disperse a First Amendment assembly” in its recent emergency police reform legislation. (The bill defines “chemical irritant” as “tear gas or any chemical that can rapidly produce sensory irritation or disabling physical effects in humans.”) The Council unanimously passed the legislation on June 9, but the mayor has yet to sign it. At-Large Councilmember David Grosso, who introduced the amendment related to chemical irritants, retweeted a post that said “Why are MPD officers armed with tear gas canisters and riot guns at today’s First Amendment activity? … the Mayor hasn’t yet signed the emergency act, but wouldn’t this sort of thing be illegal?” 

Mayor Muriel Bowser has said during a recent press conference that she will sign the legislation over objections from the police union, along with criticisms from her police chief. A spokesperson for the mayor says she hasn’t signed it yet because the emergency legislation was received Monday. “Each bill is shared with the Office of Attorney General which reviews it to ensure the measure is legally sufficient,” writes the spokesperson over email. “There is a 10 day review period excluding weekends and holidays. For this set of bills, the review period ends July 7.” —Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips?

CITY DESK LINKS, byAmanda Michelle Gomez (tips?

  • There is no mayoral press conference today. 

  • June 23 coronavirus data was not published at its usual time. [EOM]

  • Metro board will vote on the creation of a review panel for transit police on Tuesday in the hopes of creating greater transparency and accountability. [Post]

  • The Washington Teachers’ Union is demanding that D.C. invest $11 million to provide every student with a computer or tablet, as well as provide personal protective equipment to every staff member and student. [NBC4, WTU]

  • Coronavirus spreads in D.C.’s largest apartment building, the Woodner in Northwest. [Post]

LOOSE LIPS LINKS, by Mitch Ryals (tips?

  • Bowser urges caution as she moves D.C. into Phase 2, no timeline for Phase 3. [WTOP]

  • The Board of Elections will certify the Ward 2 special election results this Saturday. [Twitter]

  • A former U.S. senator is fighting a housing development near his Capitol Hill home. [WBJ]

YOUNG & HUNGRY LINKS, by Laura Hayes (tips? 

  • Changes to expect in dining rooms with the start of Phase 2 of reopening. [Washingtonian]

  • Can restaurants survive COVID-19 without third-party delivery apps? [Civil Eats]

  • Dive bars are uniquely positioned to struggle during the global pandemic. [Eater]

ARTS LINKS, byKayla Randall (tips?

  • Babyteeth has a great cast but an inconsistent tone, our critic writes. [WCP]

  • How D.C.’s Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company is making a commitment to diversity and inclusion. [DC Metro Theater Arts]

  • The U.S. Capitol grounds feature many Confederate statues. [DCist]

SPORTS LINKS, by Kelyn Soong (tips?

  • Natasha Cloud and LaToya Sanders of the Mystics are opting out the 2020 WNBA season. Cloud, who recently helped plan a Black Lives Matter march in D.C. for Juneteenth, is skipping the season to focus on her social justice activism, while Sanders said the decision was “best for my health and family.” [NBC Sports Washington]

  • The MLB intends to impose a 60-game season beginning late July. [CBS Sports]

  • Less than a week before the start of the NWSL Challenge Cup, the Orlando Pride has announced it will withdraw after 10 positive COVID-19 tests from players and coaches. Eight teams, including the Washington Spirit remain. [ESPN

CITY LIGHTS, by Emma Sarappo (Love this section? Get the full newsletter here. Tips?

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