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Do D.C. police overuse military-style jump-out squads? Is there racial profiling? Is there excessive force? What s the stop and contact policy? And is it just an excuse to stop and frisk? D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells held a hearing at Howard University Wednesday night to explore these issues, based on his own experience.
Wells was riding with a young black volunteer, who was pulled over because there was a question about his license plate. Police discovered his driver s license had expired and cuffed him. Wells said things quickly began to get dangerous.
When I asked questions, it did begin to escalate right away, he said. The person who calmed it all down was the man in handcuffs.
Wells heard plenty of stories at the hearing, packed by citizens who say they have been victims of racially motivated police stops.
I ve been pulled over so many times that I don t remember how many, one man said. I can t say I have the right to do this, I have the right to do that, because we know that this may be the last time we get to say anything.
Another participant told a harrowing tale of being pulled over, after police thought he was driving a stolen car.
I m surrounded by three different officers, guns drawn, he said. No one stopped to ask me, Yo, your ID? So they could find out that the car is registered to me and I m the rightful owner. No I was drug out the car, kicking and screaming, and one officer, when I was protesting, actually choked me.
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