D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier announced a military-style checkpoint yesterday to stop cars this weekend in a Northeast Washington neighborhood inundated by gun violence, saying it will help keep criminals out of the area.
Starting on Saturday, officers will check drivers’ identification and ask whether they have a “legitimate purpose” to be in the Trinidad area, such as going to a doctor or church or visiting friends or relatives. If not, the drivers will be turned away.
The Neighborhood Safety Zone initiative is the latest crime-fighting attempt by Lanier and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who have been under pressure from residents to stop a recent surge in violence. Last weekend was especially bloody, with seven slayings, including three in the Trinidad area.
But guns are illegal in D.C.! How is this possible?
“I guess the plan is to hope criminals will not walk into neighborhoods,” said D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large). “I also suppose the plan is to take the criminal’s word for it when he or she gives the police a reason for driving into a neighborhood.”
Isn’t there something in the United States Constitution about “freedom of assembly” and whatnot?:
Leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union said yesterday that they will be watching what happens closely and that legal action is likely.
“My reaction is, welcome to Baghdad, D.C.,” said Arthur Spitzer, legal director for the ACLU’s Washington office. “I mean, this is craziness. In this country, you don’t have to show identification or explain to the police why you want to travel down a public street.”
And then there’s the other stupidity that’s come out of her office:
One of Lanier’s plans, the Safe Homes initiative, has yet to get off the ground because of a community backlash. The plan, announced by Lanier and Fenty at a news conference in March, called for police to go door-to-door in crime-ridden areas and ask residents whether they could go inside and search for guns. Residents and some council members voiced concerns that homeowners would feel intimidated by police. Lanier backed off, but said she plans to move forward soon by having residents call police to set up appointments.