District officials announced recently that the city’s hate crime protocols have been activated and they are keeping their eyes open for bias-related incidents amid a spate of such offenses.
In recent weeks, nooses appeared around the District, including at a construction site, near a Southeast elementary school, and even on the National Mall at the Hishhorn and National African-American History and Culture museums.
In the Southwest quadrant, fake U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement flyers titled “Sanctuary City Neighborhood Public Notice” circulated, urging residents to turn in undocumented neighbors.
The incidents are still under investigation, and city officials said there will be ongoing efforts to address such matters.
“Our diversity is what makes us stronger, and we will not relent in promoting and defending D.C. values,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser in a statement addressing the nooses found around the city. “We do not take these incidents lightly, and we will not accept that signs of hate are signs of our time. We are an inclusive city, and we do not tolerate signs of hate, ignorance and fear.”
Bowser also announced that she instructed the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to investigate the incidents, its Office of Human Rights (OHR) to activate the city’s hate crimes protocol, and the Mayor’s Office of Religious Affairs (MORA) to engage faith leaders to be a resource for residents.
The hate-crimes protocol was developed when officials noticed a slight uptick in the number of hate-based crimes being reported to MPD. It requires about 10 directors of city agencies to report bias-based incidents to high-level city officials alert and formulate a response.
“When one of us gets a response from the other, we know immediate response and action is required, and we drop everything. We figure out what is needed from what group,” said OHR Director Monica Palacios.
OHR, MORA, and the mayor’s offices on LGBTQ, Latino, African and Asian and Pacific Islander affairs are listed as agencies residents can contact for additional resources and support.
“Each incident is different and requires a different response,” said Rev. Thomas Bowen, MORA director.
He said some responses may rely on cleanup by the city’s Department of Public Works and community engagement, while others may require a quieter response to avoid copycat offenses.
City officials urge residents to report bias-motivated crimes, even if they are not sure a crime has been committed.
“What we want the public to know is calling 911 is always the right response,” Palacios said.
Residents may also report crimes to MPD at 202-727-9090 or by texting 50411.