The police are off the barricades in the District's Trinidad neighborhood--for now. But the debate over whether checkpoints in the violence-plagued area are doing more harm than good rages on.
At a D.C. Council public safety committee hearing this afternoon, foes and fans of the plan continue the debate over Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's and Chief Cathy Lanier's controversial plan that required those driving into Trinidad to explain to police why they were entering the neighborhood.
"I support this program," said Robert Vinson Brannum, chairman of the 5th District Citizens' Advisory Council. "The people of Trinidad need to be protected just like the people of Cleveland Park, Chevy Chase or downtown."
Kathy Henderson, immediate past president of the local advisory council, said, "We will gladly show our identification. We believe our civil rights are violated by the unacceptable crime in our community."
But other residents said the blockade, over a series of nights since June 7, was ineffective and a violation of people's civil rights.
Deborah Golden, who lives in the neighborhood and is a civil rights lawyer, said the stops are "clearly unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment," which protects citizens from unlawful searches and seizures. She wishes there could be stepped up patrols that would not target everyone entering Trinidad.
Lanier and interim Attorney General Peter Nickles are due later in the day to testify in defense of the checkpoints as well as several other Fenty administration crime-fighting initiatives.