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Howard Law School's Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center Challenges D.C. Curfew in Court

WASHINGTON –Tasnim Motala, attorney and fellow at the Howard University School of Law’s Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center and attorney Andrew Clarke, filed a lawsuit on behalf of Black Lives Matter-DC that challenges Mayor Muriel Bowser’s curfew over Washington. Advocates say the curfew, first announced on June 1 in response to widespread protests against police brutality, criminalizes all non-essential workers who are in public spaces between 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. from June 1 to June 3. (As of this writing, Mayor Bowser has extended the curfew order to June 4, although it will now begin at 11 p.m.)

The lawsuit requests a temporary injunction against the Washington, D.C. curfew on First Amendment grounds. The lawsuit shows that the curfew order limits the free speech and free assembly rights of protesters, as well as their rights to free movement and travel.  The lawsuit also highlights how President Donald Trump has weaponized the curfew by directing federal law enforcement to attack peaceful protesters who have continued to assemble past the 7 p.m. curfew. As a result of the curfew, more than 300 protesters were arrested on June 1. Law enforcement, using tear-gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and riot gear, also attacked and injured dozens of protesters.

“The national conversation on racist policing is at a turning point. Across the country, people are taking to the streets demanding that law enforcement treat Black communities with dignity, respect, and humanity. It is a shame that Mayor Bowser has used this critical time to stymie those who are demanding reform,” says Motala.

Justin Hansford, director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center, notes that, “Mayor Bowser’s curfew is especially troubling because it will be enforced by a president who shows no qualms in responding to peaceful protest with a militarized force.”

Shortly after receiving notice of this litigation, on the afternoon of June 3, Mayor Bowser extended the start time of the curfew to 11 p.m.

“While we will continue to challenge the imposition of the current and possible future iterations of the curfew, Mayor Bowser’s decision to push the curfew start time back four hours is also a victory for the movement,” says Motala.  

Black Lives Matter-DC is the local chapter of Black Lives Matter, an organization that challenges systemic racism, particularly state-sanctioned violence against the Black community. The Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center is Howard University’s flagship institutional setting for the study and practice of civil rights, human rights, and racial justice law and advocacy.

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About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu.

Media Contact: Misha Cornelius, misha.cornelius@howard.edu