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D.C. Officer on Desk Duty After Allegedly Hitting Protester

Excerpt from The Washington Post | Read the story here.

A D.C. police officer accused of hitting an antiwar demonstrator several times with his nightstick Saturday has been placed on desk duty while his actions are investigated.

The officer, whom police did not identify, was shown on WRC-TV (Channel 4) appearing to strike the man, Marc Frucht, as Frucht was held down by other officers. Police officers at the scene have said that Frucht ignored three orders to get on the sidewalk, then resisted as officers attempted to handcuff him, according to Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham, who heads the department’s internal affairs division.

Frucht, however, said yesterday that he was tackled by police after taking photographs of other officers who were handling a demonstrator roughly. His attorney, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, said Frucht suffered welts and bruises and was later taken to the hospital by police.

Verheyden-Hilliard, an attorney for the D.C.-based Partnership for Civil Justice, said that police attacked marchers without cause three times Saturday and that dozens of marchers were injured in the confrontations.

The antiwar coalition International ANSWER organized a rally and march Saturday to oppose the U.S. occupation in Iraq. Police estimated that as many as 30,000 attended. Marchers left a rally at Freedom Plaza, at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, about 2:30 p.m. The march route spanned several blocks of downtown, targeting companies that activists say stand to profit from the war and media outlets whose coverage they criticize.

Verheyden-Hilliard said marchers were hit by officers with nightsticks three times Saturday, including once on Ninth Street NW near the main public library and later on 18th Street near the rear of the march.