District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine is offering to seal the arrest records of more than 200 protesters accused of violating curfew in D.C. during last summer’s protests over the murder of George Floyd.
Racine has been sending letters to individuals who are eligible for relief, notifying them that his office won’t prosecute them and will request a judge seal their arrest record if they respond. Sealing the record would allow individuals who were arrested to keep the records from view by the general public.
Hundreds of protesters were arrested in D.C. in June for violating curfew, after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a citywide curfew effective May 31. Anyone outdoors for nonessential reasons could be arrested for curfew violation. While most of the protests were peaceful — there were incidents of looting, destruction of property and some police officers were injured.
“One hundred fifty law enforcement officers were injured, and many taken to the hospital for concussions,” Attorney General Bill Barr said of the District protests in an interview with CBS News “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan in June.
Only five individuals who were arrested for curfew violations were formally charged. Those whose prosecutions were dropped without conviction are eligible to have their arrest records sealed if they don’t have disqualifying prior arrests or convictions, according to D.C. law. About 80 individuals arrested for curfew violations during the June protests are not eligible to have their records sealed, according to the D.C. attorney general’s office.
“We declined to prosecute the vast majority of protesters who were arrested in early June 2020 for violating the Mayor’s curfew order while peacefully protesting in the District,” OAG communications director Abbie McDonough said in a statement. “When making charging decisions, OAG evaluates the evidence and circumstances surrounding each individual arrest as well as the public safety risks to the residents of the District. OAG is also proactively offering to file motions on behalf of eligible individuals and ask a judge to seal their arrest records to help make the process easier for those individuals and reduce hurdles to have their arrest records sealed.”
The killing of George Floyd while he was in police custody sparked protests in cities across the nation. Earlier this month, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on all charges related to Floyd’s murder.