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Mayor Muriel Bowser has been encouraging everyone to follow public health guidance and wear a mask, but her own officers are not, according to the ACLU of D.C.

In a letter to Bowser and Police Chief Peter Newsham, ACLU of D.C.’s Policy Director Nassim Moshiree says many MPD officers are not wearing masks while out on patrol. Police are encouraged to wear masks, she says, but the ACLU of D.C. wants officials to make it mandatory for all officers to wear personal protective equipment.

“Officers’ failure to wear PPE actively endangers both officers themselves and individuals with whom they interact,” the letter dated July 16 says. 

DCist first reported the news.   

Officers’ use of masks has been inconsistent, in D.C. and across the country. Reporters and protesters alike have posted photos or videos on Twitter of some MPD officers not wearing masks even though they are in crowds of people. A  video posted last week shows an MPD officer not wearing a mask, while other city officials are, as they try to clear Black Lives Matter Plaza of tents for health concerns.

MPD did not respond to City Paper’s request for comment.  

In D.C., everyone is encouraged to wear a mask or face covering when they are around people they don’t live with. But the Bowser administration says certain workers should wear masks, including restaurant and grocery workers. Meanwhile, MPD officers are not required to. WUSA9 confirms masks are voluntary, after spotting detectives without face coverings while investigating a shooting in Southeast.  

 As of July 19, 179 MPD employees have tested positive for COVID-19, and of those, 137 recovered and were cleared to return to work. Given that such a large number of officers have tested positive, ACLU of D.C. is especially concerned about what that means for residents, particularly Black residents who are already dying of COVID-19 at disproportionate rates.   

“MPD officers’ failure to wear PPE poses the greatest risk of harm to D.C.’s Black residents, who are more likely to have encounters with law enforcement than other residents,” the letter says. 

—Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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

  • At press conference, Bowser says she activated D.C.’s heat emergency plan. For more information, including addresses for cooling centers, visit heat.dc.gov. DC Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt announces a new COVID-19 metric that will soon be published on the online dashboard: percentage of new cases from quarantine cases. Right now, 2.8 percent of cases are connected, well below the 60 percent threshold which suggests the virus is contained. [Twitter] 

  • As of July 20, D.C. reported one death related to COVID-19 and 78 new positive cases, bringing the total numbers to 579 and 11,339, respectively. [EOM]

  • Government-supported testing sites, like firehouses, are closed Monday due to heat. [DCist]

  • A shooting in Columbia Heights Sunday afternoon results in one murder and eight injured. [Post]

  • Here is what happens when police respond to mental health crises. [Street Sense]

  • Protesters at Black Lives Matter Plaza say they aren’t going anywhere. [DCist]

LOOSE LIPS LINKS, by Mitch Ryals (tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • Mayor Muriel Bowser’s old guard politics clashes with young, progressive activism. [Boston Globe]

  • D.C.’s proposed budget doesn’t do enough for people without homes, attorney Amber Harding writes. [DC Line]

  • RIP John Lewis. [NBC, Slate, NYT]

  • Advisory neighborhood commissioners and activists rethink policing in D.C. [Informer

YOUNG & HUNGRY LINKS, by Laura Hayes (tips? lhayes@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • Why restaurants are adding service charges as they reopen. [WCP]

  • What it’s like to dine out alone right now. [Washingtonian]

  • How Napoli Pasta Bar is staying viable during COVID-19. [WBJ]

ARTS LINKS, by Kayla Randall (tips? krandall@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • D.C. music maker and activist OnRaé LaTealtalks about the music video she filmed at Black Lives Matter Plaza. [Washingtonian]

  • Bradford Grant is now the Instagram artist-in-residence at the National Portrait Gallery. [WAMU]

  • Local artist Den-Mate has released a dreamy new EP. [DCist]

SPORTS LINKS, by Kelyn Soong (tips? ksoong@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • A toxic culture at the Washington NFL team under Dan Snyder’s ownership has festered for years, allowing the abuse that was revealed in last week’s Washington Post report, writes City Paper contributor Craig Hoffman, a former beat reporter who covered the team. [WCP]

  • Tina Charles, the Mystics’ high-profile acquisition this spring, will sit out the WNBA season after receiving a medical waiver. [NBC Sports Washington]

  • The Washington Spirit, D.C.’s first pro sports team to resume play, heads home after being knocked out in the quarterfinals of the NWSL Challenge Cup. [DCist]

  • It’s not looking good for college sports in the fall. [NPR]

CITY LIGHTS, by Emma Sarappo (Love this section? Get the full newsletter here. Tips? esarappo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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