Five men who demonstrated against the Ku Klux Klan march in downtown Washington on Oct. 28 said yesterday they were beaten by D.C. police without provocation.
The men appeared at a news conference called by the All Peoples Congress, the group that organized the anti-Klan demonstration, to announce a "people's commission" to investigate the allegations of police brutality.
Many of the alleged incidents of violence occurred on Seventh Street NW between Constitution and Indiana avenues, during a hail of rocks and bottles, as police pushed back protesters.
Sahu Barron, an organizer for the All Peoples Congress, said the findings will be presented in early December.
"We say this unprecedented and unprovoked violence was not accidental," she said. "It was not isolated incidents. We say this was a general orientation."
After the march on Oct. 28, D.C. Police Chief Isaac Fulwood Jr. said that the injuries to demonstrators were minor and that he didn't think his officers had used excessive force.
Yesterday, the police spokesman, Lt. Reginald L. Smith, said the department is investigating the few complaints it has received about police action against demonstrators. "We will determine if the department as a whole or any individual officer acted inappropriately," he said.
A Washington Post reporter at the demonstration that day saw rocks and bottles thrown at police officers there, and officers charging into the crowd. Some bystanders thought officers were too aggressive. Some officers were seen slamming demonstrators to the ground, beating and kicking them.
One person who said he was a victim of a police attack, former D.C. corrections officer Jeff McFarland, said he is not affiliated with the All Peoples Congress and went to protest the Klan march on his own. He said he left the area of Seventh Street and Constitution Avenue NW when "the riot broke out."
When McFarland asked police whether he could cross the street to get to his car nearby, he said he was told no. As he turned to walk away, he said he heard an argument between an officer and a demonstrator.
"I turned to look and saw an officer raising his nightstick over my head," he said. "I got knocked out." He said doctors at D.C. General Hospital later closed his head wound with 10 stitches.