The D.C. Police Department has drawn up a new "mass demonstration" manual that includes arrest and booking procedures criticized in previous court decisions, according to documents filed in federal court here.
The American Civil Liberties Union made the charge in seeking to reopen an eight-year-old lawsuit against police practices in a wide range of antiwar and political demonstrations in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
For the first time, according to the ACLU, the police department has expressly allowed suspension of "field arrest" forms during mass demonstrations. Dispensing with such forms resulted in dismissal of several thousand arrests during Mayday demonstration in 1971.
"Nothing so surely paves the way for a repeat of the past abuses, with all the burdens imposed on innocent persons and on the courts, than the institutionalization through the new manual of this . . . policy," the ACLU brief said.
The ACLU also said the new manual uses "vague phrases and no concrete criteria" concerning use of police lines and sweeping arrests and contains several unnecessary booking procedures.
The civil liberties group is asking U.S. District Judge Joseph C. Waddy to reopen a case in which he found that police systematically abused the rights of protesters here. His decision was overturned by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals, and the full nine-member appellate court refused to rehear the case, saying it did not feel the problems would recur.
The ACLU said that the new police manual shows the abuses will recur and that the police should be forced to "justify their renewed adoption oft these policies."
The city government has not officially responded to the charges, and a be made in formal court filings.