“Such an incident must not be tolerated anywhere — but it will not be tolerated in our nation’s capital,” Norton said in a statement.
The Secret Service said Tuesday night that it takes the allegations seriously and is making a thorough and fair investigation of the incident. In the meantime, it challenged in a statement some details of the events but did not provide specifics, saying the investigation was ongoing.
The women, India Johnson, 26, and Yasmeen Winston, 25, planned to take their infant sons to splash in the fountains at the World War II Memorial on Thursday afternoon. But before they could climb out of their car, which they’d parked on Constitution Avenue near the White House, a marked Secret Service cruiser drove into their left front bumper, Winston told The Post. Within seconds, uniformed Secret Service officers had swarmed them, demanding they raise their hands and get out of the car, the women and their attorney said.
The women, who are African American, say that for the next hour, they were detained, handcuffed and kept from their crying babies. The officers, at least at first, did not wear masks while handling them and their children, Winston said. The women said they were told the vehicle had been reported stolen, but Johnson provided proof she was the owner and said she had never reported it stolen. The women said they received no further explanation from police about why they were targeted.
Norton, who represents the District in Congress, said in her letter addressed to acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf and Secret Service Director James Murray that she wants answers within five days to a series of questions. She asked why the Secret Service crashed into the women and whether they had probable cause to detain them; why the women were not read their Miranda rights; why the officers did not wear masks; why the police pointed guns at the women and their babies; and whether the Secret Service would produce dashboard or body camera footage of the incident and release it to the public.
D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) also sent a letter to Murray on Wednesday requesting a briefing and video footage of the incident.
Johnson and Winston’s attorney, Tim Maloney, sent a similar letter to the Secret Service director over the weekend, demanding an internal investigation.
“These were two young African American mothers with their babies sitting lawfully in a car with D.C. tags,” Maloney wrote in his letter. “Can the Secret Service honestly say it would have treated white out-of-town tourists and their babies, sitting there without District tags, the same way?”
Maloney said the Secret Service has acknowledged his letter and told him they are looking into the incident.
In its statement Tuesday, the agency said it was notified by D.C. police that a license plate reader had identified a vehicle near the White House as linked to a crime. The agency said it was told someone known to have driven the vehicle was wanted in several felonies and had been designated “armed and dangerous.”
A traffic stop was made, and the occupants of the car were briefly detained until it was found they were not wanted by law enforcement, the Secret Service said in a statement issued through a spokesman. It said the welfare of everyone in the vehicle was a priority.
Winston said she and Johnson have spent the days since the confrontation feeling traumatized and paranoid.
“I could have been another Breonna Taylor,” Winston said, referring to the Louisville woman who was killed by police in her apartment in March. “I could have been another innocent woman who has no record and got shot.”
Martin Weil contributed to this report.