DC police now making arrests when people refuse to social distance
WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - As D.C. residents dealt with a new reality back in March and were told to stay home, D.C. Police, for weeks, reported no arrests of people refusing to comply with the new rules of social distancing.
In fact, throughout April and most of May when asked, police continued to say no arrests. That is until today.
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At a news conference to update residents on the coronavirus, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham confirmed -- for the first time -- there had been several.
"The last time I looked, there were five or six across the city...we have had people that are being completely noncompliant and we are getting complaints from the community about large groups. Generally when we go into these large groups, they will disperse and if they are not, then we will issue citations and make arrests if necessary," said Newsham.
Over the weekend, a DC Police officer was assaulted by a man who was apparently angered by the officer's attempt to break up a crowd of about 50 people who had gathered on the basketball court of a Southeast elementary school.
A video obtained by FOX 5 shows a man, identified by police as Clay Wendell, punching an officer in the face with his fist and attempting to strike a second officer before running from the school yard.
Wendell was charged with Assault on a Police Officer and was ordered held without bond.
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"I saw that video and it made me very angry", said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. "(The) officer...was just doing his job and to be hit, to be assaulted and from what I saw it was a very respectful interaction and just imagine how bad that could have gone... and from what I have seen and I haven't heard any different from the police chief (the officers) followed their training and tried to deescalate the situation".
Over the last several weeks, police have been called to break up large crowds at the Fish Market in Southwest as well as other places.
On Hartford Street Southeast over the weekend, police were called to break up a large block party with an estimated two hundred people.
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Chief Newsham says the noncompliance has been minimal when compared to the fact the city has a population of more than seven hundred thousand residents.
With the continued decline of positive COVID-19 cases, Mayor Bowser says she will announce Wednesday whether to relax the rules and begin phase one on Friday.