justice from the frontlines: April 17, 2023

Third mass shooting this year hits D.C.

In the third mass shooting in D.C. this year, four people shot, one fatally, at a funeral. Police Chief Robert Contee said several individuals were targeted, although authorities are unsure why. The shooter or shooters have not been identified. The DCist (Apr. 11, 2023)

Peace for D.C.

The non-profit organization Peace for DC aims to reduce shootings in Washington, D.C., by using “community violence intervention” methods, which seek to reduce violence without relying on police and the traditional criminal justice system. The program is also a diversion from the street teams of violence interrupters. The DCist (Apr. 11, 2023)

Held for 34 years for three murders one man could see release

Phillip Clements, who was convicted of murdering three people, is seeking to be released from prison after serving 34 years of his five consecutive life terms. While the victims’ family members are against his release, both prosecutors and the defense argue that Clements has clinically been deemed a low risk to society, has been substance-abuse-free for 20 years, and deserves a second chance. A decision is expected on May 8th. The Washington Post (Apr. 8, 2023)

AG’s team up

D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb aims to partner with his counterparts in Virginia and Maryland to form a regional response to the city’s gun violence issue. The proposal was in response to a letter from Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, who demanded action after a Virginia woman was murdered in her D.C. hotel room. WUSA9 (Apr. 14, 2023)

Youngkin limits the restoration of voting rights 

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin is facing a federal lawsuit after slowing down the process of restoring voting rights for the formerly incarcerated. While Virginia is one of a small number of states where it’s up to the governor to decide whether people who’ve convicted felony offenses regain their right to vote, the last three governors had streamlined the process, but Youngkin has not specified his criteria for restoration. Critics say this is following a legacy of disenfranchising Black voters. NPR (Apr. 14, 2023) 

Forced exposure

A woman is suing the Portsmouth sheriff and a deputy after being forced to expose her genitals, along with at least one other female detainee, to prove they were menstruating at Portsmouth City Jail in May 2022. According to the lawsuit filed by Danaesha Martin, the deputy ordered the detainees to expose themselves as a condition of obtaining sanitary products. The Virginia Mercury (Apr. 11, 2023) 

W.VA whistleblower comes forward

West Virginia State Police Cpl. Joseph Comer came forward as the author of a five-page anonymous letter alleging wrongdoing within the department. The letter, sent to Governor Jim Justice, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and state lawmakers, alleged sexual assaults, thefts, and other misconduct. WBOY 12 (Apr. 12, 2023)

An end to pot stops

Maryland lawmakers passed a bill that prohibits police from using the smell of marijuana alone as a source of reasonable suspicion or probable cause for a stop or search. The Daily Record (Apr. 12, 2023)

in other news

New York City plans to deploy security robots, GPS launchers, and Boston Dynamics’ “DigiDog,” which was previously criticized and pulled from service, in its continued efforts to enhance public safety, according to Mayor Eric Adams. The New York Times (Apr. 16, 2023) 

A new plan for police and court system reform in Jackson, Mississippi, implemented by the predominantly white state legislature, was met with opposition in the primarily Black capital city. The New York Times (Apr. 10, 2023) 
The Army allowed soldiers charged with violent crimes to leave the military rather than face trial. When the soldiers leave the Army with a negative discharge, they avoid possible federal conviction and have little record of the allegations against them. Propublica (Apr. 10, 2023)

The eight Akron, OH officers who shot and killed Jayland Walker last summer won’t be criminally charged. A jury found that the officers actions were justified. The Akron Beacon Journal (April 17, 2023)

An 84-year-old white Kansas City, Missouri man was charged with two felonies on Monday after he allegedly shot a Black teenager who walked up to the wrong house to pick up his twin brothers. Reuters (April 18, 2023)

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Lulia started working as a Research & Reporting Intern for The Des in January 2023. She is a third-year student at The University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Journalism, International Relations & Global Studies and East Asian Studies. Growing up in the US, Saudi Arabia, and China has given her a unique perspective on international relations and sparked her interest in understanding the ways in which technology impacts civil rights and privacy.

Before joining The Des, Lulia worked as an undergraduate researcher at the Global Disinformation Lab, where she gained valuable experience in researching and understanding the ways in which disinformation and emerging technologies impact policy. She hopes to continue gaining valuable experience and knowledge through her internship at The Des, and use this experience to further her career in journalism and public policy.