Councilmember Allen Letter to US Secret Service Regarding July 30 Stop

Text of Councilmember Charles Allen's letter to United States Secret Service Director James Murray regarding a reported stop of two mothers visiting the National Mall on July 30, 2020

August 4, 2020

James M. Murray
U.S. Secret Service
1100 L Street, NW, #6000
Washington, DC 20005


Dear Director Murray:

As the Chairperson of the D.C. Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, I write with serious concerns regarding an alleged incident that occurred on July 30 on Constitution Avenue near the intersection with 17th Street, NW. The Washington Post reports that U.S. Secret Service agents in an official vehicle rammed a parked car, then confronted its occupants – India Johnson and Yasmeen Winston, along with their infant children – with raised service weapons.[1] Johnson and Winston had been gathering their belongings in their car, preparing to enjoy the National Mall with their children on a summer day, but instead were allegedly handcuffed for up to an hour while their children remained in the hot car, unattended. The women were subsequently released, they allege without explanation or apology, and the car may have been searched during their detention.

The officers’ behavior, if true, endangered the lives of these women and their children. Agents crashed their vehicle into Johnson’s with no regard for the safety of the occupants, and all parties could have been seriously injured. Further, the children were left in the car on a day when the temperature outside was above 90 degrees, putting their lives at risk. The agents threatened deadly force against both women, with no apparent reason to believe the two posed any threat. In addition, it is unclear why Johnson and Winston would have been handcuffed at all during the incident. Lastly, it is alleged that the agents involved did not wear masks at the beginning of the encounter.

Our nation is in the midst of a national conversation over the role of law enforcement. This incident speaks to that moment and the reality of the excessive use of force and overpolicing of Black Americans. As reported, it would be hard to script a moment that more directly shows the distance we have yet to travel. The officers’ response was beyond unacceptable and further eroded trust between District residents – particularly residents of color – and law enforcement. It has now traumatized both women, their children, their families, and vicariously, anyone who becomes aware of it. I ask that you fully investigate what happened and provide my office with a briefing and any related video footage. I would appreciate a response by August 14 at the latest, and thank you in advance for your partnership.


Charles Allen 
Ward 6 Councilmember
Chairperson, Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety

Cc:        Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

            Kevin Donahue, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice

            Councilmember Brooke Pinto, Ward 2

            Councilmember Anita Bonds, At-Large

            Councilmember Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3

            Councilmember Vincent C. Gray, Ward 7


[1] Two Black moms took their kids to the Mall. Secret Service officers confronted them with guns, they said.

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