Washington, D.C., officials defended using checkpoints to prevent violence after a series of shootings left a neighborhood called Trinidad shaken in recent months, reports the Washington Post. City Council member Phil Mendelson, public safety chair, said the checkpoints engender ill will among residents and infringe upon civil rights.
Police ran a checkpoint randomly over six days, asking drivers why they wanted to enter the neighborhood and allowing only residents and those with legitimate business there to enter. More than 700 vehicles were allowed through and 46 were turned away. The American Civil Liberties Union said that at times that nine of 10 motorists were being denied entry. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said the killings in Trinidad involved gunmen driving in from other neighborhoods. While the operation was in effect, there were no shootings in the area. Because pedestrians were not being stopped, drivers who were turned away could park their cars and walk into the neighborhood. Residents were divided. Some said they did not consider it onerous to show identification if it quelled the violence; others called the checkpoints ineffective and humiliating.