Anglican Watch

Anglican Watch denounces biased policing in Alexandria VA.

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In response to the continuing refusal of the City of Alexandria Va. to accept police reports about non-sexual clergy misconduct, several press releases are making their way onto the wires in the next 24 hours. The press release content is below. For the record, we have done city officials the courtesy of giving them a heads-up about the press releases.

We also provide specific information that cannot be included in the press releases sent on the wires: Patricio Alvarez is the officer who lied about his interaction with me. Even more troubling, it is our understanding that Alvarez serves on internal affairs.


ALEXANDRIA, VA — Amid concerns about the conduct of police officers nationwide, Anglican Watch, the unofficial watchdog publication for the Episcopal Church, has condemned the City of Alexandria, Virginia, police department for biased policing. The announcement comes as a result of the following:

  1. The police department’s refusal to investigate allegations of perjury by an Episcopal priest in the city, despite multiple requests, including emails to Chief of Police Don Hayes;
  2. The city attorney’s refusal in writing to investigate these allegations;
  3. Multiple complaints by persons of color and the LGBTQ+ community of bias.

“This matter has gone on for far too long,” says Anglican Watch editor Eric Bonetti, who is directly involved in the matter. “All persons are entitled to equal access to law enforcement, including the right to have allegations of criminal conduct documented and investigated.

“We also believe that the city has attempted to cover up its bias following the retirement of officer Wilbur Salas, who spearheaded efforts to shut down protests outside Grace Episcopal Church via fabricated claims that protestors were ‘domestic terrorists. Following Salas’ retirement, police files about the case vanished. That happened soon after Virginia broadened access to police records,” said Bonetti. “Yet the city’s FOIA office redacted dozens of pages in the original file. So why is that file suddenly missing? 

‘We also note that Salas has avoided efforts to subpoena him in this matter,” Bonetti notes. “If his conduct was above-board, why would there be any issue about him with deposing him?

“Further, we have learned that a member of the police department’s internal affairs unit lied to other officers in writing about his role in this matter. This lack of integrity is unacceptable.

“These factors, combined with repeated efforts by the city police department to intimidate protestors while endorsing flagrant perjury by a male, white, straight, cisgender priest at Grace Episcopal Church, is shocking and appalling.

“During our ongoing investigation, we also have heard countless allegations of police attempting to prevent onlookers from filming their activities, witnessing arrests, or promoting accountability,” he continues.

“We also have heard from multiple Black and LatinX persons who believe that the police department is biased based on race and ethnicity. And we have received complaints of inappropriate conduct within the department against LGBTQ officers and citizens.

We demand the following:

  1. That Police Chief Don Hayes meet with other community members and us to hear firsthand our experiences with biased policing.
  2. Adoption of policies requiring that the police department accept and investigate all complaints versus denying equal rights to some citizens based on bias or preconceived notions.
  3. That the City Attorney file charges in all cases in which a felony, such as perjury, has been committed versus ignoring these situations when the defendant is a white, straight cisgender clergyperson. 
  4. Increased accountability and transparency when police officers lie, abuse their position, attempt to intimidate peaceful protestors, or otherwise violate public trust. Specifically, lying about their interaction with members of the public should be grounds for immediate termination.
  5. Immediate removal of officers who have lied about their conduct.
  6. Increased access to police records versus hiding behind various FOIA loopholes.
  7. Retention of all police investigative reports for a minimum of 10 years.
  8. That the Episcopal Church take immediate action to remove clergy from office who engage in perjury or other criminal activity.
  9. That the Episcopal Church make reparation to all persons harmed by criminal conduct by its clergy.

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