Felicia Carson, Leslie Clark, Lisa Burton, and Tabatha Knight, four of the 10 women involved in a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department for alleged civil rights violations, misconduct and institutional racism and sexism. (Courtesy photo/The Washington City Paper)

Since the discovery of Metropolitan Police Department [MPD] Lieutenant Shane Lamond’s alleged white supremacist ties, elected officials, activists and residents have been engaged in discussions about how best to rid the department of those with similar affiliations.  

For retired MPD officer Tabatha Knight, doing so means not only holding MPD Chief Robert Contee accountable but D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) and others she said turned a deaf ear to her complaints about racist and sexist behavior within the police department. 

Knight, one of 10 women who filed a federal class-action lawsuit against MPD last year, recently commemorated the first year of what she described as her forced retirement from the police department. The lawsuit filed by Knight, MPD Assistant Chief Chanel Dickerson and the other Black female officers alleges civil rights violations, misconduct and institutional racism and sexism.  

The lawsuit also implicates MPD’s Equal Employment Opportunity office, which allegedly colluded with MPD leadership to discredit those who complained about the hostile work environment. 

In the last years of her 32-year career, Knight served under Dickerson. Knight previously worked within the Special Operations Division where she witnessed white male officers’ leniency with protesters with overt white supremacist ties. 

For nearly a decade, Knight accumulated evidence of  white male MPD officers threatening and assaulting civilians and verbally assaulting Black female colleagues. She said her attempts to present evidence to city leadership and even Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) often fell short because of their insistence that they couldn’t hold MPD accountable. 

Knight said intimidation tactics under then-MPD Chiefs Kathy Lanier and Peter Newsham, and later Contee, weighed heavily on her, and at times threatened her career trajectory. That’s why she hasn’t taken too kindly to Contee’s refusal to speak about Lamond’s case.  

“Don’t be fooled by Robert Contee. He’s aware of everything that happens,” Knight said. “He’s been taken care of his entire career so he feels obligated to promote people he knows are doing wrong. Mayor Muriel Bowser is just as bad.”  

“No one wants to get involved with what’s going on within MPD. With all of this stuff coming out, they shouldn’t act surprised because I told them all and provided proof,” she said.  

The investigation into Lamond, a police department veteran of more than 20 years, centers on communication between him and Henry “Enrique” Tarrio of the Proud Boys – a group whose members had been implicated for involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. During a pro-Trump rally in late 2020, Tarrio and the Proud Boys stole a Black Lives Matter flag from an historically Black church and burned it. Tarrio would later serve four months and a week in jail for his role in that racialized incident. 

On February 16, Contee didn’t disclose much information about Lamond, even his name. He cited an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI and U.S Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia as the reason why he couldn’t share details. In the immediate aftermath of Contee’s announcement, there had been questions about whether a complaint from outside the department triggered a response.  

For decades, the FBI issued warnings about ties between police departments and far-right militant groups. An FBI intelligence assessment from the mid-2000s revealed strategic infiltration of law enforcement agencies by groups sympathetic to white supremacist ideology. The class-action lawsuit filed by Knight, Dickerson and other Black female police officers referenced video of MPD Assistant Chief Jeffrey Carroll standing by Proud Boys affiliates at a protest. 

Last May, the D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, chaired by Councilmember Allen, deliberated on legislation to compel the investigation of MPD’s white supremacist affiliations. That bill, the White Supremacy in Policing Prevention Act, still has not moved beyond committee. 

If passed it would direct the Office of the DC Auditor [ODCA] to determine the existence of connections between MPD officer and white supremacist groups, propose reforms to better detect and prevent such ties and provide protections of MPD officers’ freedom of speech and privacy. 

D.C. Councilmember Janeese Lewis George (D-Ward 4), who championed the bill, said it works best only if ODCA oversees the investigation. Any other scenario, such as one where MPD investigates itself, would not suffice.  

“When people see instances when officers have white supremacist ties, it evaporates trust,” Lewis George said. “I didn’t introduce the legislation to hurt MPD [but] to help restore the integrity of the department for people to stay and work. We have several lawsuits from women officers alleging harassment and retaliation. It’s clear that MPD is in a place where they have to restore integrity to build trust. This legislation is part of that work.” 

@SamPKCollins 

Former Officers Blame City Officials for MPD’s White Supremacist Problem 

Sam P.K. Collins

WI Staff Writer 

Since the discovery of Metropolitan Police Department [MPD] Lieutenant Shane Lamond’s alleged white supremacist ties, elected officials, activists and residents have been engaged in discussions about how best to rid the department of those with similar affiliations.  

For retired MPD officer Tabatha Knight, doing so means not only holding MPD Chief Robert Contee accountable but D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) and others she said turned a deaf ear to her complaints about racist and sexist behavior within the police department. 

Knight, one of 10 women who filed a federal class-action lawsuit against MPD last year, recently commemorated the first year of what she described as her forced retirement from the police department. The lawsuit filed by Knight, MPD Assistant Chief Chanel Dickerson and the other Black female officers alleges civil rights violations, misconduct and institutional racism and sexism.  

The lawsuit also implicates MPD’s Equal Employment Opportunity office, which allegedly colluded with MPD leadership to discredit those who complained about the hostile work environment. 

In the last years of her 32-year career, Knight served under Dickerson. Knight previously worked within the Special Operations Division where she witnessed white male officers’ leniency with protesters with overt white supremacist ties. 

For nearly a decade, Knight accumulated evidence of  white male MPD officers threatening and assaulting civilians and verbally assaulting Black female colleagues. She said her attempts to present evidence to city leadership and even Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) often fell short because of their insistence that they couldn’t hold MPD accountable. 

Knight said intimidation tactics under then-MPD Chiefs Kathy Lanier and Peter Newsham, and later Contee, weighed heavily on her, and at times threatened her career trajectory. That’s why she hasn’t taken too kindly to Contee’s refusal to speak about Lamond’s case.  

“Don’t be fooled by Robert Contee. He’s aware of everything that happens,” Knight said. “He’s been taken care of his entire career so he feels obligated to promote people he knows are doing wrong. Mayor Muriel Bowser is just as bad.”  

“No one wants to get involved with what’s going on within MPD. With all of this stuff coming out, they shouldn’t act surprised because I told them all and provided proof,” she said.  

The investigation into Lamond, a police department veteran of more than 20 years, centers on communication between him and Henry “Enrique” Tarrio of the Proud Boys – a group whose members had been implicated for involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. During a pro-Trump rally in late 2020, Tarrio and the Proud Boys stole a Black Lives Matter flag from an historically Black church and burned it. Tarrio would later serve four months and a week in jail for his role in that racialized incident. 

On February 16, Contee didn’t disclose much information about Lamond, even his name. He cited an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI and U.S Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia as the reason why he couldn’t share details. In the immediate aftermath of Contee’s announcement, there had been questions about whether a complaint from outside the department triggered a response.  

For decades, the FBI issued warnings about ties between police departments and far-right militant groups. An FBI intelligence assessment from the mid-2000s revealed strategic infiltration of law enforcement agencies by groups sympathetic to white supremacist ideology. The class-action lawsuit filed by Knight, Dickerson and other Black female police officers referenced video of MPD Assistant Chief Jeffrey Carroll standing by Proud Boys affiliates at a protest. 

Last May, the D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, chaired by Councilmember Allen, deliberated on legislation to compel the investigation of MPD’s white supremacist affiliations. That bill, the White Supremacy in Policing Prevention Act, still has not moved beyond committee. 

If passed it would direct the Office of the DC Auditor [ODCA] to determine the existence of connections between MPD officer and white supremacist groups, propose reforms to better detect and prevent such ties and provide protections of MPD officers’ freedom of speech and privacy. 

D.C. Councilmember Janeese Lewis George (D-Ward 4), who championed the bill, said it works best only if ODCA oversees the investigation. Any other scenario, such as one where MPD investigates itself, would not suffice.  

“When people see instances when officers have white supremacist ties, it evaporates trust,” Lewis George said. “I didn’t introduce the legislation to hurt MPD [but] to help restore the integrity of the department for people to stay and work. We have several lawsuits from women officers alleging harassment and retaliation. It’s clear that MPD is in a place where they have to restore integrity to build trust. This legislation is part of that work.” 

@SamPKCollins 

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Sam P.K. Collins

Sam P.K. Collins has more than a decade of experience as a journalist, columnist and organizer. Sam, a millennial and former editor of WI Bridge, covers education, police brutality, politics, and other...

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1 Comment

  1. This is nothing new. The policing system was created from a biased foundation and it along with America in its entirety will NEVER be a great nation for as long as ALL PEOPLE don’t hold themselves accountable for the devils dwelling within us

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