D.C.’s no-chase policy was designed to prevent needless civilian casualties. Instead, it means the Capitol Rotunda now casts its shadow over an increasingly lawless city where criminals wantonly break the law, taunt police restrained not by ethics but identity politics, and harm innocent bystanders — all without punishment.
From January 2014 through May 2015, the most recent time period for which data is public through the local police union, law enforcement made 147 arrests. Only a few dozen were found guilty. And, even if found guilty, the maximum fine is just $250, which was lowered in 2013 from $1,000.
Washingtonians are routinely treated to unwanted displays of two-wheel doughnuts and “12 o’clock tilts,” in which drivers lift their front bumpers skyward, all while racing through congested intersections with no regard for human life. These wannabe action stars move in and out of traffic patterns, careen onto sidewalks and lawns and crash into pedestrians.
In 2014, a dirt biker attempting to perform a trick struck a young Black woman in a crosswalk. The impact tossed the woman like a rag doll into oncoming traffic, pinning her beneath another vehicle’s wheel. The accident crushed her pelvis and nearly separated one of her legs from her body. The assailant, who crashed before hitching a ride on another dirt bike, was never apprehended.
The stunt that nearly killed that young woman was neither art nor artful — the incompetent driver crashed, after all. Charitable observers might consider the suturing of the victim’s leg to her mangled body in a 12-hour procedure to be art, but it’s a rather macabre expression.
A year later, in 2015, promising young Black journalist Charnice Milton was gunned down in crossfire between rival dirt bike gangs as she was leaving an assignment. Her murder remains unsolved.
There was no culture to be found in Milton’s drive-by assassination on a glorified child’s toy, in the cowards who committed it or in the community that abets them. On the contrary, culture was the subject of Milton’s grass-roots reporting, such as her profile of a young Black artist from Ward 8.
Because officers can’t give chase, they attempt to protect the public by strategically choking off busy streets and intersections to direct the gangs’ warpath. In one instance in 2018, a dirt biker died after colliding at high speeds with a police cruiser. That rider might still be alive today had he not been riding an illegal off-road vehicle, without a helmet, in open defiance of the law.
And yet these criminal hobbyists insist their violence-tinged pastime is a culture uniquely their own. Hiding behind a veneer of culture as a pretext for harming others is cowardly and shameful, but these gangs have done just that for a decade.
Somehow, D.C. is at once the seat of the most and least powerful governments in the world: a federal leviathan that stands head and shoulders above all others and a local government that can’t or refuses to manage some idiots on toys.
Washingtonians deserve to live somewhere better than an unchecked gang state. Enough is enough: Arrest, prosecute and punish these criminals.