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Disturbing Incident at Turkey Thicket Pool – Banned for Wearing a Swim Shirt, “if we continued to ask questions to the police officers, we would be arrested and our daughter would be put in custody of social services”

by Prince Of Petworth — June 26, 2013 at 10:30 am 197 Comments

Turkey Thicket Recreation Center located at 1000 N Michigan Ave, NE

Last night, a reader sends us an email originally sent to members and staff of the City Council, DPR and two neighborhood listservs:

“I had a very disturbing experience today at Turkey Thicket pool today. We arrived at 4:55pm, during a lifeguard “break”; no one would tell us how long it was. While we were waiting, we were approached by a lifeguard and another DPR employee, who asked me if my tankini sport shirt was a swimsuit. I told the woman (Kata) that it was my understanding sport shirts were OK as long as they weren’t cotton, due to an email from Sean Link (head of DPR aquatics) from last summer stating “If a bather has a shirt that is swim apparel, such as in this link, they are certainly able to wear it. (Those shirts are made of polyester, the shirt I was wearing was polyester, nylon and spandex, exactly what swimwear is made of). She said it was a difficult situation because she had asked other people to change when wearing similar swim attire, despite the fact that I might be right. I asked her why my shirt wasn’t acceptable and she said it wasn’t swim material. I pointed out that “swim shirts” which are explicitly allowed by DPR are not “swim” material. I said that I was planning to swim as I was wearing appropriate swim clothing. She walked away.

The other employee, a man, was very rude to me, so my husband asked for his name and supervisor’s name, and he refused to tell us. This had actually happened before – my husband took our daughter to the pool a few weeks ago, and this man said my husband couldn’t wear a sport shirt on the deck. My husband removed it, but asked for his name and supervisor, so he could find out the policy, and after stalling, he said his name was Timothy. I asked Kata (the lifeguard) what his name was and she said Marvin, so he had previously lied to my husband.

[We were also told today that only swimsuits were allowed on deck, no cover ups or T-shirts, and that “as soon as you leave the locker room you are ‘in’ the pool”. However, I have an email from Sean Link, who said “staff is aware of the rules regarding allowance of cotton cover-ups (and other pool-friendly attire) on the swimming pool deck.” Another email from Sean to the listserv last summer states “My staff should not prohibit anyone from wearing a t-shirt, whether cotton or some other material when not in the swimming pool. I share your frustration as it has been clearly communicated at our internal staff meetings. If a patron is sitting poolside in pool appropriate attire, with a cover-up on that is permissible.”]

While I was in the pool (approximately 20 minutes), I observed 8 individuals with mesh basketball shorts on, one with visible cotton underwear, two with cotton head wraps, one arm cast, and approximately 10 individuals on deck with shoes or tshirts. Even the lifeguards were wearing cotton shorts, mesh shorts, and mesh shirts (none of which were from the website indicated by Sean), and one of the on-duty lifeguards was doing flips off the diving board while wearing this mesh outfit. My husband asked why no one else was being instructed to change and Kata’s answer was “you haven’t been here all day, sometimes we ask people to leave.” But DPR staff did not ask anyone else to leave while we were in the pool.

The first time we were hassled at Turkey Thicket (for not showering first), we apologized and learned the rules. The second time, when my husband was asked to remove his shirt on deck (and did), he contacted DPR twice (and I contacted them once via Twitter) for clarification, with no response. But the fact that no one else was asked to change, including the dozens of other people wearing (according to the lifeguards) unacceptable attire, when taken with the fact that we are always in the racial minority at this pool, does not seem to be a coincidence.

Marvin returned after I had been in the pool for 10 minutes to tell me that his supervisor, Cecelia, said what I was wearing wasn’t a swimsuit. I asked him if she was there, to see what I was wearing, and he said no, she was on the phone. I said that what I was wearing was non-cotton and qualified as a swim shirt. He walked away and didn’t say anything else. Approximately 10-15 minutes later, two police officers walked in and told me that I needed to leave. They provided no information to me as to why I was being asked to leave, but I asked a lot of questions and figured out Marvin said he had had this issue with me specifically three separate times (I have never met him before) and that I was wearing cotton (I was not, and he knew it because he pulled on the back of my shirt to look for a tag) and that he had asked me to leave (to be clear, he had NEVER asked me to leave). The police, by the way, said it appeared that I was wearing a swimsuit when they arrived. We were told by the police we were barred from the entire facility (not just the pool) for a year, and that if we continued to ask questions to the police officers, we would be arrested and our daughter would be put in custody of social services. Furthermore, we were told that if we returned we would be arrested for trespassing, but the police would not provide copies of the trespass warning we were required to sign, and DPR staff refused to make copies. The fact that neither DPR nor the police are required (or even ethically obligated) to provide a reason for issuing a trespass warning on public property is unacceptable.

I find it appalling that DPR, despite the fact that my husband and I emailed DPR half a dozen times for clarification on the “swim shirt” and “no shirts on deck” rules (in addition to multiple community requests for this information that I am aware of), can’t get their act together, decide on a policy, post it clearly at each pool, and train their employees accordingly. Furthermore, why is the DPR employee in charge of the Turkey Thicket pool obscuring his name badge, refusing to provide his name and lying about it? Why, when asked for this information, did he call the police and have law-abiding, rule following, taxpaying citizens removed, rather than simply provide information that any public employee should be required to provide on demand? We have a right to know this information, and asking for it should not result in us being excluded from taxpayer-funded recreational facilities. The fact that the DPR rules for pool facilities are still listed vaguely as “proper swim attire” over a year after many community requests for clarification is ludicrous. That someone can be barred (not asked to leave, but banned for a year) from a public facility for wearing a piece of clothing of possibly (but not certainly) the wrong (but not unsafe or inappropriate) material, while at least a dozen other people wore definitively unacceptable materials without being harassed, is unfathomable. The fact that my husband was additionally barred apparently for asking for Marvin’s name and supervisor’s information is ridiculous.

First, I want the trespass warning formally revoked in writing by DPR. Along with this, I want a letter from the Director of DPR to MPD explaining that DPR requests the order to be revoked, so that we can confirm with the police department that we won’t be arrested the next time we try to use the pool. Further, I would like DPR to conduct a formal investigation as to why this employee refused to provide us with his name or his supervisor’s contact information until ordered to by the police. In addition, we would like a written apology from DPR, along with written definitions of what “pool”, “deck”, “proper swim attire”, and “swim shirt” are, along with the written policy explaining what actions staff are to take if they believe the rules aren’t being followed. If we are allowed back in the pool, as we should be, we ask that Marvin, if he is allowed to remain in charge of that facility, which he should not be, not be allowed to approach or talk to us (he’s not a lifeguard, so he has no need to).

If DPR decides to dig in its heels and not revoke the order, I demand a full accounting of what Marvin told the police to justify our being barred, including who made the decision, what justified the decision, and why no one informed me that I should leave before calling the police.

I hope that other people who have had issues with the Turkey Thicket staff, or DPR aquatic staff generally, will come forward so that if changes need to be made, they can be made quickly.

If you want DPR to clarify its position on what “proper swim attire” is, please do one (or more) of the following:

– Contact the DPR Director, jesus.aguirre(at)dc.gov

– Sign the petition to get DPR to clarify its ‘swim attire’ rules https://www.change.org/petitions/district-of-columbia-department-of-parks-and-recreation-define-proper-swim-attire-and-train-employees-accordingly?share_id=uMZyXrxfkk&utm_campaign=twitter_link_action_box&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=share_petition

– Tweet to @DCDPR

– Email Kenyan McDuffie at kmcduffie(at)dccouncil.us (and his constituent services coordinator, [email protected])”

  • Anonymous

    You have to pick your battles in life. This isn’t one of them.

    • Anonymous

      I disagree. This is clearly injust and should be remedied. Kudos to the OP.

    • Anonymous

      Banned for a year isn’t worth fighting?

    • Anon

      Police said they could put her child in the custody of social services if she came back to a pool where she was, to the best of her knowledge, obeying the rules, and where she was singled out and lied to/about. Yeah, this is one of the battles she gets to pick if she wants.

      • Anonymous

        No, the kid would go to social services if both parents went into police custody.

    • Reader

      Ha, you’re joking, right? This is a perfect battle, and it’s going to be oh so easy. McDuffie has already responded, and gone out of his way to post his response to the greater Brookland listserv, which wasn’t originally copied on this letter. I believe that some people are about to learn a lesson about being oh so predictably stupid.

      • Anon

        Can you re-post the listserv response?

        • Reader

          Sure. It was short and sweet. I was unaware of all of this until I saw it there as an original post, and he copied the full letter above to the group.

          “Ms. Bishins,

          I regret this unfortunate incident.

          By way of this email, I am asking Director Aguirre to give this matter his prompt attention.

          Take good care,


          • Anonymous

            This is a non-response. There is no timeline for follow up, just the hope that the person will drop it – which they should not do.

          • Anonymous

            Agreed. Jesus Aguirre is a pretty good guy, but I don’t see him as the type to come down hard on DPR staff.

            Issues like this one, and the Columbia Heights assault post the other day could be a real opportunity for POP to grow the site. Why not take a walkabout up to Turkey Thicket and see about an interview with Marvin, Dan? I’d pay to see that video. No one else in the local “media” takes any interest whatsoever in low-level DC Gov incompetence ruining citizen’s quality of life. The Post doesn’t even pretend to cover local interest and the local news only cares about deaths and indictments.

    • dootely

      also – I propose that this event be known in the annals of DC race relations as “the Tankini Incident”

  • Anonymous

    It this kind of bullshit that drives things to be privately owned. DC government is constantly shooting itself in the foot.
    Schools, parks, pools. So many things are such a pain in the ass with DC.gov.
    We need to clean house and save our public services. / rant.

    • Anonymous

      There’s a lot of deeply ingrained ineptitude throughout the DC government.

      • Anonymous

        Don’t forget the blatant, overt racism!!!

  • KSB

    The lying and harassment is completely inexcusable on the part of the Turkey Thicket and DPR staff. INSANE.

  • Sammy

    My friends saw a Muslim woman, who was swimming at Banneker Saturday in what was basically a wetsuit, get asked to leave. Not cool.

    • textdoc

      I was wondering about this while I was reading the original post. Maybe DPR needs to be sued for religious discrimination?

    • jtedc

      Wow. The gall and obvious ignorance/lack of sensitivity in that move. Just wow.

  • Anonymous

    Marvin sounds like a total dingleberry. I want to punch him.

    • Anonymous

      you dont even know this Marvin person and there are two side to ever story you sound ignorant for ever making that statement.

  • Marcus Aurelius

    And people say that MPD is not on the job 🙂

    I am fairly sure that no police officer has the power to unilaterally ban you from a public facility for a year. That kind of ruling requires a court order. He or she might be able to exclude you from the premises if the owner or operator asks him or her to do so. But an ongoing ban requires more than one police officer”s command.
    I am a big fan of DC Aquatics generally. But while Turkey Thicket is the closest pool to my house, I rarely go there. I don’t think it’s as well run as Tacoma or Wilson.

    • anon

      I have a bad feeling that whatever they signed means that they “voluntarily” banned themselves from the facility, so no court order needed. Never, ever sign anything like that. And, yeah, I’m not sure what I would have done if they were threatening my kids (if I had kids), so this is just big internet talk. Just so far out of the bounds of OK.

  • anonymous

    AMAZING! This is blatant and disgusting discrimination. There are so many reasons why this is wrong, and why this makes me angry. Yes, they’re trying to exclude you. You’re not wanted there. The question is, do you really want to be there with people like that? I know you’re right on the principle of the matter, and you’d be right to protest and fight this tooth and nail. Based on your story, it sounds like the police and staff are using abusing their power in ways that harken back to another era. But life is short, and I’m not sure I would want to fight my way into a pool with unsavory (and probably racist) staff and customers alike.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with you on the point that the staff’s behavior was unacceptable and potentially discriminatory, and that is unfair and maddening. But it is also not quite fair to extend that out and generalize that the pool customers are likely to be racist and unsavory as well. The OP’s very detailed account of the incident says very little about the other pool patrons, except that a small number of them were wearing attire that is not supposed to be allowed at the pool; there is the implication that the pool staff is giving those customers a free pass on their infractions because they’re of the same race, but no indication that other pool customers treated the OP badly or even interacted with her at all. Maybe that *has* happened at the pool, and it just wasn’t referenced in that account. But just because a handful of people (ie, the pool staff) are behaving in a racist and abusive way, let’s not automatically assume that everyone else of their race is racist, too.

      • anonymous

        Fair point. Thanks.

  • Momo

    The most disturbing part of this whole story is the part where you were threatened by the police for asking questions–they were going to take your child away?!?!? That seems to be outrageous intimidation to me. So sorry this happened to you, and I hope enough people complain that you get some sort of remedy/apology.

  • Anonymous

    I’m probably in the minority here. But, just wear an actual swimsuit.

    • Anonymous


    • Anonymous

      You missed the point.

    • anonymous

      Yeah, you are in the minority because you don’t understand the concept of “abuse of power.” Never mind the fact that her tankini is universally recognized as a swimsuit (same materials used as a swimsuit). LL Bean sells tankini tops and bikini tops interchangeably with their swimsuit bottoms because *surprise* they’re all swimsuits!

      • R2PO

        Define “swimsuit” and please reference DRP/DC Gov rules when doing so. Also, please qualify what you mean by “universally recognized.”

        • anonymous

          Ha! I’ll explain why wearing my nylon-polyester swimsuit from LL Bean is ok when you explain why a bunch of dolts wearing mesh basketball shorts and cotton underwear is ok. You KNOW the former is ok while the latter is wrong but mysteriously the former is punished while the latter is not. This has nothing to do with the swimsuit. Period. It has to do with abuse of power and excluding people you don’t like. The swimsuit issue is a sideshow to these people who just want to discriminate and protect their own turf.

          • L


          • textdoc

            And even if it’s not discrimination per se, it’s definitely just abuse/exploitation of power by people who have the authority to deny others something they want.

    • R2PO


    • hma


  • slim

    E-mail your councilmember and the police district commander, I will bet money that you are swimming withing a week or two.

  • Kathryn-DC

    It is very clear from the description of this incident that this location is not accommodating people who need to be covered up from the sun when not swimming. Which is pretty much everyone, as skin cancer is becoming more of a concern.

    I’m also disturbed by the statement about this family being in a racial minority at this location. DC is becoming more culturally mixed, and we all have to get along.

    • Anonymous

      It’s an indoor pool.
      The issue isn’t the rule but how they were treated.

    • ZetteZelle

      It’s an indoor pool; the risk of cancer-causing sun exposure is slim to none. (That said, my kids still wear their swim shirts when we visit there–I just want them to stay in the habit of having them on.)

    • Anonymous

      The family is white.

      • Anonymous

        Great, that means they were discriminated against because of their race, right, haha.

  • sbc

    You might want to discuss this with the MPD leadership for the that district.

    Also, here’s a list of the folks on the council committee that oversee DPR:
    Kenyan McDuffie
    Jim Graham
    Tommy Wells
    Yvette Alexander
    Marion Barry

    Some of them are likely to be a lot more responsive than others.

  • Mishi L


    • Anonymous

      …wondered about that too!! With or without permission?

    • Anonymous


  • andy2

    This is terrible – I hope you win.
    I got told that DC One Cards do not work at pools anymore…apparently they only work at indoor pools now – because that makes sense!

    • mod

      My friend used his DC One Card on Saturday at Banneker with no problem.

  • R2PO

    Remember this posting when you vote in the next DC election. DPR rules do not get created from thin air. The people we elect make these rules and their methods of enforcement.


    The problem is that this happens at ALL the pools in DC. They do not clarify what is considered “swim attire” and they pick on the people who are not their friends or fellow classmates. Fine, I will wear a bathing suit NP, of course, but I would like to be able to put something on over the swim suit so as not to get sunburn. That should not be considered action enough to be banned from a pool or have the police called. I fully support her arguing this point and picking this battle. I have stopped going to Banneker because of their inane rules and if someone wants me to suppport their battle against this, sign me up! I will do everything she requested. Some of these “pool attendents” are dips—s and I am completely over it!!!!

    • Anonymous

      I don’t really understand why you can’t wear a swimsuit coverup if you’re not in the pool…can you wear a sun hat/visor? Sunglasses? I mean, where are they drawing the line. Pardon my ignorance, but I haven’t been to a DC public pool in a number of years, and then it was Haines Point, which was a very laid back atmosphere.

  • spookiness

    Well you know some things in life are complex and don’t fit into a tweet.

  • Write to DC officials

    I am super concerned about what is appropriate swim wear like you are. I feel for you and your family to have to go through this sort of thing. I think this needs to be addressed immediately and us tax payers should not expect anything less. I would also write the mayors office and call his office as often as you can. Daily at least and demand that we all know what is appropriate swimwear. I would even recommend showing up to your elected officials offices and speak to them in person to have them push the matter and hopefully provide clarification. Maybe it would be worthwhile to have the office declaration of swimwear with you each time you go to the pool so you can show that you are following the rules. I hope this matter is resolved soon because I am not sure I will want to go to the pool if it is not clear what appropriate swimwear is.

  • Reader

    This was a letter to her council member and DPR. It seems crazy, but even in 2013 some things still take 2 or 3 minutes to read and absorb. Even longer sometimes.

  • Anonymous

    Let’s organize a Mankini-in. Civil disobedience ain’t pretty, but it can change attitudes. Man the spandex-barricades!

  • dat

    Wow, this is incredibly disturbing. Good luck – I hope you fight this.

    • dat

      The manager of Turkey Thicket is listed as a Marvin Drummond. See http://app.dpr.dc.gov/dprmap/details.asp?cid=90

      Did you give permission to Marvin for him to pull at the tag of your swimwear? I find that objectively inappropriate and, if I were a woman, I would likely be extremely offended to have a stranger touch my swimsuit – especially someone in a role of pseudo-authority. If you did not give him permission, you may want to consider pressing charges for assault/battery (an unwanted and offensive touching of your person).

      • Anonymous

        He is the MANAGER? How is that possible?

  • ledroittiger

    What is the point of a tankini?

    • Anonymous

      Hiding stomach fat. (And protecting from harmful UV rays.)

    • Anonymous

      It covers more skin. Some people are modest and prefer to cover up.

      Let’s face it, a bikini is really just like wear a thicker pair of panties and a bra to the pool. Not every woman feels comfortable wearing that. It’s not up to pool staff to play fashion police and retaliate.

    • Emmaleigh504

      And easier to use the bathroom than a one-piece while giving the same coverage.

    • textdoc

      Also fits better than a one-piece if you’re tall.

    • Also keeps a better drape on the body than a one piece. They are quite flattering, I think.

  • andy2

    I posted this on DCPR’s Facebook page.

    • Anonymous


      • andy2
        • Anonymous

          Interesting…their page doesn’t have the link on it. Do they moderate posts?

          • Monroe

            If you click on the comment it expands and shows the link this PoP post

          • Anonymous

            You might have to click on the “Links by others” box to see it.

  • popneighbor

    The police officers that threatened the op clearly abused their power by threatening to take their child away. I hope that they are reprimanded appropriately.

    • Anonymous

      I hope you got name and badge numbers.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed. Abuse of “power” all over this story is very disturbing.

      And I kinda hope that the writer does press charges against Marvin for assault. We all know it would be overkill, but after his behavior, he deserves some pain in his ass.

    • equidistance

      I am way more appalled by the actions of the police officers than the pool manager.

    • Anonymous
  • Shocked

    I wear a swim shirt all the time at Wilson, for modesty reasons. I am shocked by this. I hope this story creates the appropriate uproar so that this does not happen again – to any of us.

  • Anonymous

    Ugh, DC cops took it to an inappropriate place. WTF.

    I hope these dopes get put on desk detail. Cops like that have no business interacting with the public.

  • Leslie Knope

    As a pool manager in a former life, I fail to see why wearing a T-Shirt or any cover up of any kind on the pool deck would be a problem. It was even kosher sometimes to wear one in the pool, provided that no patron’s safety was compromised (i.e., don’t go off the diving board with one on, but wading in the shallow end is fine).

    Also, how do we go from 0 to banning/police escort in what appears to be a relatively short period of time? In my experience, that kind of punishment/intervention was almost always reserved for blatant illegal activity and not entrapping someone on a technicality.

  • HstNE

    I wore a two piece Tri suit (Tankini like top and lightly padded biker shorts) to Wilson once so I can try it out before my Triathlon race and didn’t have any issues. I did swim in a lane right in front of a life guard and no one said anything.

  • Anonymous

    It’s called racism. There I said it.

    • Anonymous

      Racism in DC is ok if African-Americans are racist to whites and Asians.

      • squish

        This sentiment continues to frustrate the f*ck out of me. I wish this didn’t feel so true all of the time!

        • Anonymous


      • dootely

        this may be racism, or it may be a personality conflict. as a white guy, I have experienced some racism in DC – mostly directed at the fact that I am with a black woman. it is interesting tho that when whites are faced with the type of discrimination that blacks so often endure, that we all get up in arms. but no, racism isn’t acceptable in any form.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think racism is the right word.

      But there’s definitely an ingrained institutional culture of trolling the “earnest white folks” among DC government employees. The more high strung you appear, the more likely they are to f#ck with you.

      • Anonymous

        No…racism is correct. I never experienced racism until I came to DC. Grew up w/ blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians and never had a problem till I came here. I’ve been called “cracker” more times than I care to count…had “white devil” thrown at me a few times too. Must be my Ginger hair. I guess they couldn’t know that I envied my buddy Lakeiban and his dad’s afros so much when I was growing up…they were both so damn awesome!

        • annonny

          I just LOL’d at the “white devil” slur….if somebody called me that I honestly think I would laugh in their face. Seriously?

          Best slur I’ve had hurled at me was “sodomite” when I was asking for an explanation about why a police officer wouldn’t ticket a car in a no-parking zone on Sunday. This as part of a lecture about how “church people get a break” from parking laws on Sundays. What a joke some of our DC municipal employees are.

        • hma

          What, no “Yakoo?”

        • Anonymous

          –1 mill.

          If you think this is real racism being kicked out a pool, try getting pulled over and asked why you are in a neighborhood (upper NW).

          This is an abuse of power.

          • barista

            nice attempt to invalidate someones experience.

          • It’s All Bad

            It’s not a competition to determine who’s the most infringed upon. It’s all bad.

          • Anonymous

            x100000, white people dont know what racism is.

      • Anonymous

        the correct word is bigotry.

      • Anonymous

        This is true. I think it’s a class thing and about saving face. In some circles having a DC govt job is a status thing and quite respectable. But then someone walks in with a law degree or whatever and talks to them like they’re trash and they go nuts. The threshold for disrespect is very low and the temptation to wield any sort of power over the other person quite high. It’s class warfare man.
        The flip side that people don’t talk about is that if you can be friendly and fair, DC govt staff is also willing to go well out of their way for you. But you have to be cool and make nice.

        • saf

          “The flip side that people don’t talk about is that if you can be friendly and fair, DC govt staff is also willing to go well out of their way for you. But you have to be cool and make nice.”

          Some, yes. But not all.

          It’s a good rule in general to be civil and polite. It will generally get you better service. It will generally make your life better.

          But some folks are just mean. And civility will get you nowhere with them. With them, your very existence is disrespect.

        • Yup, I totally agree with you. I usually “make nice” with whoever I’m dealing with (whether that’s at the DMV or the pool) and 9 out of 10 times I can get my business done quickly with minimal hassle. That usually means chatting them up, being patient, not appearing stressed or frazzled, etc. The more you try to rush them, the longer you’ll be there. It’s totally a game of reverse psychology.

          The ladies at the DMV have even bended the rules for me to get me in & out quickly; yet on those same visits, I’ve seen them totally tear to shreds other professional-looking white people since they raised their voice to them and just generally acted entitled. If you do crap like that, expect to be at the DMV for a looooooooooong time or for them to ask for “additional documentation”, thus requiring another visit.

          You got to come with patience and show respect.

          • Hi, howya doing?

            I completetly agree with you about making nice, and how far that can get you. I find myself psyching up to ‘make nice’ – keeping things on an even keel, not showing any emotion or impatience – prior to interaction with DC employees far more than in other circumstances, including job interviews or first dates. It works, but it’s work.

            An earlier comment (yours?) is also quite true: “The threshold for disrespect is very low and the temptation to wield any sort of power over the other person quite high.” but I would apply this to both sides of the exchange.

          • Kathryn-DC

            I will never forget my first experience at the DC DMV. I went there to transfer my license to DC. The girl informed me that she would need my passport to complete the transaction, because “you don’t look American to me”. Mind you, this was in the mid-80’s, well before any security requirements.

            I raised ten kinds of cain until somebody agreed that I looked American enough to get a DC license.

    • Anonymous

      That’s what I’m thinking too.

    • Colhi

      Where did the original poster say she was white?

    • power of flight

      Can anyone elaborate on the racism thing? I’ll admit I’m black and all my interactions with local government, including the police, have been fantastic. But I also get from this blog alone that there is an extremely snide, dismissive attitude from some citizens toward the local government that seems to stem from its extremely visible blackness. E.g. I can’t imagine thr Boston police being chided for not picking up horseshit. I can see myself wanting to throw a wrench into that level of belittling entitlement whenever I had the chance. But is it really the case of blanket hostility or, as the other commenter said, “the more high strung you appear…”?

      • Anonymous

        I’m not one of the commenters above, but I know what you mean about the vibes that come off some of the comments (in general, not just on this thread). I want to give the benefit of the doubt and think that many people are just frustrated by incidences of government corruption and ineptitude and feel that their efforts as far as voting or activism are futile to change this–and combine that with the fact that no one ever really spotlights the things that local government employees are doing well, so the bad apples especially stand out. But I do also think that some comments suggest this defensive-posture type of sentiment, not stated this bluntly, but along the lines of “some individual black people have said racist things to me; therefore it’s ok for me to be negative about black people broadly” (and you can substitute low-income people or government employees and whatever supposed corresponding bad behavior in that statement).

        And regarding the types of incidents described by the OP, I think unless someone is throwing racial slurs at you, beyond a gut feeling it’s hard to know if racism is the motivation. It could be; or it could just be that the pool manager is an all-around jerk on a power trip, or is letting the other improperly-attired customers slide because they’re his friends or neighbors, or whatever. Maybe there is blanket hostility among some government employees, but I tend to think of that more as an individual personality flaw than an overarching characteristic of DC government employees or black DC government employees.

        • Eckingtonian

          I don’t use the pools myself, but white neighbors who do report that it’s standard for their families to be forced to shower and adhere strictly to dress codes, while other families aren’t. I can’t vouch for this personally, but the reason the OP is complaining is the perception among white families that this is a pattern they experience frequently, not a one-off that they’re weirdly attributing to their race. I don’t know whether or not that’s true, but it’s what they believe.

        • Anonymous

          Well said.

      • saf

        I’m white – really pale white – middle aged, and female.

        I have lived in DC since 1983, and in Petworth since 1990. So, I am familiar with living in a majority black context, and am perfectly comfortable with doing so.

        My experience with the DC government has been very mixed. I have had great interactions, and I have had some truly horrible interactions. And yes, a number of those bad interactions have had racial components. Being told that I think I can “get over because you white,” was really frustrating. (And I wasn’t trying to “get over,” I was trying to get clarification on a regulation.) Being told that I shouldn’t walk here because it’s not my neighborhood by a cop was frustrating. (At that point I think I had lived here longer than he had been alive. It is indeed my damn neighborhood.)

        The fact is, there is a large cohort of (now) middle management in the DC government who see this city as theirs, and nobody else’s (many left over from the Barry-era hiring frenzy). Some of those folks can be downright nasty to anyone unlike them.

        There are also people who are truly dedicated to public service, people who want to make this city a better place for everyone.

        It all depends on who you have to interact with.

        I hate to be trite, but I often feel like shouting, “Can’t we all just get along?”

        It’s not only DC government folks though. I get frustrated by the new (white) folks in the neighborhood who assume I think exactly like they do, because we are both white. I get frustrated by the folks who don’t know me and assume that I hate them/want them gone because I am white.

        There has to be a way to get both sides to drop the stick of racial divide that we hold between us and begin to interact as neighbors.

        • Mark

          ^ This.

        • Anonymous

          + 1 Well put. Nuanced and Genuine. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      • Anonymous

        I just wanted to chime into say that I really appreciate the thoughtful comments from all three of you (power of flight, annonymous, and saf).

        • jt

          I do too. Much appreciated.

  • Nikki

    Ignorant question – why would shirts not be allowed in the pool? I understand big loose shirts, but something fitted?

    • Anonymous

      If it’s cotton, fibers come off and can clog up the filters.

    • annonny

      I believe there’s some issue with cotton fibers getting into the filtration system and/or clouding up the pool water. The DC Rec office needs to take a step back from making fashion choicesand simply decide on what is appropriate fabric to be in the pools. If the rule was simply nylon/polyester/lycra/neoprene (wetsuits) = allowed, cotton = banned, there would be less to argue about. I guess there will always be some safety concern about weak swimmers getting weighted down by baggy clothes, but perhaps that could be dealt with individually based on a lifeguard’s call and/or a safety complaint?

    • Anonymous

      It has more to do with spreading communicable diseases than clogging the filters.

      • anon


    • Anonymous

      Yeah, I can’t figure that one out either.

  • Stoney_D

    The cops sound like dicks. Or do dicks sounds like cops??! I hope these guys miss out on the free donuts at Dunkin’!

  • Stoney_D
    • Prince Of Petworth

      I was looking for that post but couldn’t find it. Thanks for posting it!

  • Anonymous

    In my experience, calm orderly interactions don’t get elevated this way. While I agree, the life guards may be wrong initially here, my guess is OP was yelling back. (especially given the length and tone of the original email). If you are angry and disrespectful, these minimum wage lifeguards are just gonna get rid of the problem.

    Also, let’s not jump to the ‘racist’ thing too fast. I don’t believe we really know any of the races of anyone involved here, so….

    • L

      Your experience must be limited.

    • textdoc

      From the length and tone of the original post, I thought exactly the opposite.

      • Anonymous

        I think when the police threaten to take your child away for no good reason as the cherry on top of being unfairly targeted over a senseless and vague issue, there is cause for alarm. I’ve experienced severe police harassment while remaining calm and cooperative to the point where other police officers have apologized for their colleague’s abusive and alarming behavior.

        I’m not sure how long you’ve lived in DC, but this type of story—in which law-abiding citizens serve as easy targets for harassment—is pretty much in line with my experiences and many other DC residents’ experiences.

        • Anonymous

          They only threaten to take children to social services if they are taking both parents into custody and no one can care for the child. This bit has been overblown and overhyped.

  • Barbara

    DC is just like a third world country in many ways. There is no respect for citizens, city officials constantly abuse their “power”. I’m tired of random maliciousness, from the traffic guy on the corner of Upshur and 13th yelling into my car window for no good reason (three times) and flat out calling me a liar (one time), to the ticket guy who was standing by my car at 3:59 p.m. waiting to ticket me, and did so even though I was right in front of him and preparing to leave by 4 p.m. as required by the posted sign. Everytime something happens that surprises me, I remember that Marion Barry is still around. It’s shameful.

    • Anonymous

      “from the traffic guy on the corner of Upshur and 13th yelling into my car window for no good reason”

      Doesn’t that suck? I’ve had this too, but at 14th and W. On multiple occasions when trying to turn east onto W, the crossing guard has given me a hard stop, even when I had the light, the cross walk read DON’T WALK, and there was NO ONE in the cross walk. Most recently, I was in a convertible, so I asked him, not rudely, why I couldn’t proceed, and he laid into me about cross walks and kids and blah blah. I think he wanted to stick it to me because he thought my car was nice.

      Made be sit through two complete cycles before grunting and getting out of the way (and getting a well deserved middle finger from me).

      • anon

        Your giving him the finger wasn’t just stooping to his level; it was stooping even lower. For shame!

    • Anonymous

      I have never seen a more passionate traffic guy. I think I like it.

    • Petworthy

      If that guy yelled at you three times, then you apparently don’t listen. He screams at idiots trying to get onto an already blocked street. He screams at people blocking the box and screwing up everyone else’s trip. He makes sure his area is safe for children to cross the street. I’ve seen him work for years and he does a hell of a job managing traffic
      The problem is you, Barbara.

      • Anonymous

        Meh, a little column A, a little column B with that guy. On the one hand, he does do a generally good job managing the traffic at the intersection. On the other, I’ve definitely noticed him delaying/harassing a certain class of folks without regard to their driving…

      • Anonymous

        “The problem is you, Barbara.” Who says stuff like that to someone they don’t know through a blog?!? Reason tells me replying is a waste of my time, but here goes, sad anonymous person: you don’t know the circumstances of the incidents. Sometimes he insists people stay when there is plenty of room to proceed, and one time he told me to proceed then changed his mind halfway through the intersection. He has been very inconsistent and from the beginning has been disrespectful.

  • JeffinLanierHeights

    This has an NBC4 summer story written all over it…

    • Henry

      Please!! Do this city a favor and call Pat Collins!!! 🙂 Seriously – bring this to his attention.

    • gee

      absolutely……send to Tom Sherwood

  • Anonymous

    just buy a swim shirt? problem solved… they have always been terrible to talk to.. no point it in this arguement

    • textdoc

      You must not have read the entire post — apparently the OP *was* wearing a swim shirt, but what the head of DPR aquatics says is swim apparel and what the employees “on the ground” consider to be swim apparel are not the same thing.

      • mvalrie

        “While we were waiting, we were approached by a lifeguard and another DPR employee, who asked me if my tankini sport shirt was a swimsuit. I told the woman (Kata) that it was my understanding sport shirts were OK as long as they weren’t cotton, due to an email from Sean Link (head of DPR aquatics) from last summer stating “If a bather has a shirt that is swim apparel, such as in this link, they are certainly able to wear it. (Those shirts are made of polyester, the shirt I was wearing was polyester, nylon and spandex, exactly what swimwear is made of). She said it was a difficult situation because she had asked other people to change when wearing similar swim attire, despite the fact that I might be right. I asked her why my shirt wasn’t acceptable and she said it wasn’t swim material. I pointed out that “swim shirts” which are explicitly allowed by DPR are not “swim” material. I said that I was planning to swim as I was wearing appropriate swim clothing. She walked away.”

        This is probably the most important paragraph out of the entire letter. The OP stated that she was wearing a “Sport Tank” not a tankini or a swim suit. Although, they may be made of the same material she’s clearly put herself at the mercy of the Staff.

        Secondly, and this is more than likely why she got kicked out…the OP stated “I said that I was planning to swim as I was wearing appropriate swim clothing”. This declarative statement combined with what I am sure where attitudes on both parts escalated the event. Not to mention, that the OP clearly stated this was the third incident…hate to say it but the family is probably looked upon as troublesome at this point.

        With that being said, there are no winners here and I think that the easiest way to fix this is through better signage and some retraining of Staff.

        • Reader

          I am pretty sure that’s in no way the most important paragraph of the letter. I appreciate the attempt at damage control though.

        • Anonymous

          Why would a reasonable–emphasis on reasonable–pool staff person look upon this family as “troublesome” for this being the third incident? The OP clearly states that the first incident (forgetting to shower) was an honest mistake for which they apologized and rectified going forward. In the second incident, they were again unclear of the rules, but again complied with instructions. On the contrary, the fact that this is the third incident says more about the pool staff targeting this family for harrassment than the reverse. And according to this account, it was the pool manager who claimed this was the third time he’d specifically had that swim shirt/tankini incident with the OP, a claim the OP denies.

        • Swimmer

          @mvalrie: I think your interpretation of the declarative statement is on target. Although it’s impossible to know without having been there to hear it, it could have been said in a agressive manner, and it could have been heard by the staffer as antagonistic enough to merit intervention at a higher level – the manager, the police. It’s certainly possible that the OP didn’t intend it to be that way, but communication while under duress is a tricky thing.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve emailed and tweeted. I’ve had a similar (although not as dramatic or severe) encounter with DPR staff at Banneker about the proper swimwear attire issue. What got to me was the fact that I saw about a dozen other folks (in the pool!) wearing what I was wearing and I wasn’t even allowed to enter the facility. I asked for a supervisor and was promptly ignored. If they simply clarified in writing an posted what is allowed in the pool and pool area wouldn’t it be easier for everyone involved? The staff could then simply point to the policy in writing and visitors would know what to expect. It’s not rocket science.

    • Anonymous

      The issue is that even if the policy is on the wall, it will be selectively enforced. Their friends/acquaintances won’t need to abide by the rules, but YOU will (if they feel like hassling you). Rules don’t matter to folks trying to troll you.

      • Anonymous

        I don’t disagree, but the first step would be to have some clarity around what is appropriate swimwear and have it posted for all to see. This seems like an easy thing for DPR to do to mitigate some bad press and constant complaints (this issue has been around since at least last year)

        • anon


  • Anonymous

    Like others have said here, I really don’t understand the rule over cover-ups on the pool deck. Last summer my fiancee and I were forced to remove our swim cover-ups before we got on to the pool deck. We weren’t going to swim in them, we just weren’t ready to strip to our bikinis right away. It made us really uncomfortable to have to walk around the deck in bikinis right away. Sometimes you just gotta get comfortable before baring it all (or most of it) to your hood! Can someone, preferably DPR, explain how a cotton cover up on the pool deck can affect the filters? I was a lifeguard growing up and had never heard of this until last summer.

    • Anonymous

      It’s selective enforcement. They just wanted to mess with you, exercise their power, and annoy you to no end.

    • Anonymous

      And beyond your modesty, some of us don’t want to be burning in the sun on the pool deck (I know, not an issue for the OP at an indoor pool, but outdoor pools are part of the system the policy applies to)

  • shawchica

    Have to say the police officers response is par for the course for DC police officers. I had a similar experience (not at a pool) where police were asked to get involved and got a similar reaction from the police. You have to respond to their command and then they may/may not be willing to listen to you. Not sure if this is right but I have learned from getting put in jail for asking a police a question (the charges have since been dropped and expunged) the first time; and the second time I responded to his command and he listened to me and ended up buying me breakfast (long story).

  • Anonther

    So DPR can’t figure out how to communicate to their staff what basic dress code policies are. And there was the whole water bottle debacle about preventing people from hydrating while swimming or being at the pool to escape the 100* weather. Makes me really not so confident in their ability to train teenaged life guards to be able to actually save lives.

    • cam

      Wow. Jaw-dropping, impossible to understand reactions from police and DPR employees. Ridiculous behavior. I had no idea there was all this hubub about “appropriate attire” at DC public pools. After reading, I’m now super hesitant to go to one of these pools, as I’d be afraid of violating vague rules and then being mistreated as a result. Rules should be clear, and public employees should attempt to be courteous and helpful. I am hoping something good will come of this communications disaster. Like serious employee training, proper discipline, clarification of rules, a sincere apology, and revocation of the year-long pool ban.

      • Maybe

        Ha ha – I have almost the opposite reaction. I am old(ish) fat and hairy, and haven’t felt pool-ready in years, but in reaction to this I am tempted to go out and buy a DPR-approved swim suit (I am sure Speedos are approved – how big do they make them?) and go to the nearest pool and parade around in nothing but my little teeny suit and what the good lord gave me! (Oh and my plastic water bottle, too.)

  • Anonymous

    It sounds like there may be more to the story than in that letter. You don’t get threatened arrest (or children removal) unless you escalated the scenario by yelling/generally showing your arse.

    • mvalrie

      I tend to agree…I’m sure that tensions were high by this point. The OP stated that this is an ongoing problem so unless she has the patience of Job. I’m inclined to believe that there was definitely some wild gesticulating and loud talking.

    • Anonymous

      You’ve obviously never had an encounter with DC police. I’ve had several encounters where calmly asking a question or trying to explain something is viewed as questioning or threatening their authority, resulting in an immediate threat of arrest or a citation or some other punitive consequence.

      • Anonymous


      • Anonymous

        SO have I. It’s the most maddening thing– I’m keeping my cool, trying to talk rationally, and some asshole cop gets in my face saying “are you ARGUING with ME??” and “Ma’am, if you’re going to get AGGRESSIVE about this…” Because you know, when they SAY you are being aggressive, *poof* you’re the bad guy and all your rights are moot.

      • annonny

        Yep, yep, and yep. Some DC police are reasonable, some appear to be having a perpetual bad day and/or a major chip on their shoulder. The ones with bad attitudes (see earlier post about ignoring an assault victim) give the entire MPD a bad name.

      • Anonymous

        Best part is when you tell them they are Deaf, and demand an interpreter – they get a piece of paper out and I just sit there and blankly stare. The police here are idiots and don’t even know their own laws.

    • Kathryn-DC

      So what if they got loud? It’s a basic customer service principle that the customer is allowed to be upset . The person doing the customer service is the one who needs to stay calm. Somehow, here in DC, that principle has been reversed.

      • Customer Service?

        But that assumes that pool users (etc) are thought of as customers, and since that would then require ‘customer service’, it simply doesn’t happen.

  • anon

    These issues at the DC pools seem to happen every summer. Here’s an idea – when one of these employees starts hassling you, pick up your smartphone and record the conversation. It will not only document the incident to prevent them from lying about what happened, but it might change their behavior if they know they are being recorded.

    And you don’t need their consent in DC to record it, if you don’t want to be obvious. DC law requires only one party to a conversation know that it is being recorded.

    • Anonymous

      That could help, but I’m guessing it might be logistically difficult if a number of swimmers leave their smarphones in a locker or at home instead of taking them onto the pool deck . Never been to any of the DC pools, but that’s what I tend to do when I’ve been to other pools–so that the phone doesn’t get stolen while I’m in the water, and so there’s no chance of it getting splashed, broken, or otherwise damaged.

      • Anonymous

        pictures and videos aren’t even allowed in government facility ie pools so yoh attitude just create another problem for them. they are givin rules to enforce for a number of reasons… no to piss you off rember swimmers can be rude too

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad MPD and DPR had the time to respond to this yet they don’t bother dropping by the Turkey Thicket parking lot which after 6 turns into a lot full of teens blatantly drinking and smoking. I pulled in to use the park and promptly had my car turned into a park bench. I don’t have problems with kids hanging out and having fun, but when management and MPD have the time to harass someone for a swim-shirt, but don’t address the actual law violations in the parking lot, then I start to get seriously annoyed.

  • dave b

    man, how did we exist before swimshirts? do swimpants exist yet? solve one problem, create two more

  • Anonymous

    i still don’t understand the rule. if you are just sitting near the pool, you can’t wear cotton?

    • Anonymous

      it’s not for the pool’s protection, its for the garment’s. We all know what happens when you get new cotton garments wet and then dry them.

      • barista

        it shocks the cotton.

    • Anonymous


      • Anonymous

        it clogs the filters and the system shuts down, also makes water cloudy and if we cant clearly see the bottom them it has to be shut down… its not to be an ass

        • Anonymous

          So this makes sense if you were wearing cotton IN the pool, but why can’t you wear a T shirt while sitting on the deck? Or am I completely missing this rule?

  • brookland_rez

    I’ve been a regular at Turkey Thicket for 4 years and I’ve never had a problem. And I’m in the “racial minority” too. I even park my bike on the sidewalk in front of the door by the hot tub and never get hassled. But I’ve been going long enough that everyone knows me and I’m friends with all the lifeguards so I guess that probably has some effect.

  • Griffinsis

    I would love to see the child services intake form for this. REASON FOR REMOVAL: IMPROPER POOL ATTIRE

    • anon

      My guess is that what the cops meant was that if both parents are taken to jail, the child will wind up (temporarily) in CPS custody.

  • ShawGuy

    I’ve been to a DC public pool a whopping two times in fifteen years, because they’re just not very pleasant places to be. And that was BEFORE the no-water bottle rule and the no-shirts-on-deck rule. Overcrowded, no chairs, nowhere to take a break and get away from the screaming children, etc. I just be sure to send an extra-nice housewarming gift every time a friend moves into a building with a private pool and I don’t have any trouble staying away from DPR.

    Here’s the thing – I’m MALE and I’m kinda confused about what I would and wouldn’t be allowed to wear at a pool like this. And we really only have three options – board shorts, short trunks, and speedos. And we only tend to pick from the first two outside of Europe. But I can’t wear a t-shirt once I get there? What if the sun is bothering me? Or what if I just don’t like sitting around without a shirt on? I have an okay body, but I don’t think I’d sit around with no shirt on for four or five hours in a row even if I just got off work modeling for Abercrombie. Some people just don’t roll like that.

    And after hearing that the response of some pimple-faced summer job teenager is to call the police when they disagree with you, I will NOT be going back to a public pool anytime soon. Just not worth it. I’d rather PAY for a membership at a private pool.

    I hope you get the apology you deserve, and that the employee at the pool and the two cops are all fired.

  • anonymous

    The real outrage here is that you can’t wear cotton in the pool. Or urinate in it, for that matter.

  • D

    The poster sounds high-maintenance with a great sense of self-entitlement. I find it strange that her AND her husband BOTH had problems with swim attire. Why can they just wear a swim suit in an INDOOR swimming pool?

    I have gone to Turkey Thicket tons of times without any issue and the staff there has been nothing but professional. Bringing up race as a potential reason for reverse-discrimination is simply ludicrous. This poster is probably used to everyone accommodating her all the time and when people try to exercise any rule that is not in her favor, she complains until she gets her way.

    • Anonymous

      This poster sounds high-maintenance with a great sense of self-entitlement to make blanked statements about other people

    • Anonymous

      Is that you, Mr. Drummond?

      • textdoc

        This made me chuckle out loud. 🙂

    • Anonymous


    • Anonymous

      I’ve had to deal with similar behavior as I was told my swimming shorts were “too small” for the pool. I am male, and incredibly fit. Wearing real “swim trunks” apparently isn’t allowed, but basketball shorts past my ass is OK? Cool.

  • Anonymous

    I will agree with those who have experienced similar situations at DC pools.

    I’ve had the guard on the stand (at Banneker) completely turn around from the stand (taking his eyes off the pool), blow the whistle, and yell at a friend and me when coming out of the locker room wearing a simple cover-up (my friend just had on a t-shirt over her suit). We had showered per the rule, and I put back on my cover-up so as not to have to parade around the deck and move chairs in only my swimsuit. The guard made us stand by the door to the locker room and disrobe while he made sure we did so- completely humiliating (I guess we could have gone back into the locker room, but there were people behind us waiting to come out).

    This rule is mostly not enforced at Takoma, (which I completely appreciate), so I try to go there when possible, even though there are 4+ pools closer to my house. I also don’t see folks getting into Takoma with their t-shirts/cover-ups/other inappropriate swimwear, so I would be curious to see if there is any difference in the overall cleanliness of the pool vs. another where it’s strictly enforced. It’s also selectively enforced at Hains Point, but I have been rudely treated by staff at Banneker, Turkey Thicket, and Rumsey for wearing a cover-up or a similar reason. There have also been some pleasant encounters, but the negatives are definitely more the norm.

    For someone who is generally a good, rule-abiding citizen, having someone scream at you and being made to feel like a common criminal (for just being modest) is a really nerve-wracking and unpleasant situation. It has definitely impacted my desire to frequent DC pools, which makes me sad. When I’ve had these interactions, I have calmly complied to avoid any further embarrassment. On the occasions when I approached staff – I once politely asked if I could wear my cover-up until I got to my chair and I assured the staff member that I wouldn’t wear it in the pool – I was told “no,” but given no explanation.

    I think it would go a long way for DPR to clearly and consistently explain/enforce the policies, and have the staff trained and able to articulate them to patrons of the pools as needed. I (as a former lifeguard) find it pretty amazing that lifeguards on the stand should be trained/allowed to focus on what the patrons on the deck are wearing. Sure, if I were about to get in the pool with inappropriate clothing (which I never would), I would understand, as the guard would not have to take their eyes off the pool to communicate this to me.

    I didn’t even get into the insane amount of pool breaks at some pools (the 15-minute ones that last 30 or 45 minutes while the staff are just horsing around on the pool deck) and other policy inconsistencies from pool to pool.

    I’m not sure that the OP handled the situation in the best possible way, and I make no claims of racism or bigotry, but from my experiences I can sympathize that something should be done about these policies/procedures and the way the staff handle them.

    • Anonymous

      Horrible that they stand there, watch you and tell you to disrobe. That and the guard grabbing and checking the tag are entirely too much no matter if the victim is black/white/male/female. That is abuse and harrassment.

  • More to the story

    I think there’s more to the story. I’m sure the pool staff acted unprofessionally… and what happened with the cops sounds absolutely nuts.

    That said, I live in an adjacent neighborhood as the OP and am a member of the list serv this was originally posted to and this particular individual has had at least one follow up email posted on the same list serv by her neighbor indicating that she may not be the most pleasant person to deal with. On at least this list serv she has posted very angry rants and seems entitled numerous other times (I looked back through the archives that I have access to courtesy of being a subscriber).

    So, I think people need to not jump to conclusions and treat this as pretty much any other similar issue and figure that when there are crazy ass stories like this, there is definitely another side and to at least approach it with a healthy skepticism.

    • eckingtonite

      she has been mean to me. and to another person i know. other interactions have been fine. she seems unpredictable and i don’t really trust her side of the story.

      • Reader

        this is super credible. tell me more. do you know anybody that work at a pool? i am looking for pool job.

    • RMahoney

      I am part of this same eckington listserv. This woman had a very heated disagreement with DPR this past January over the Play dc playground project at Harry Thomas recreation center. She was unhappy that a garden was being built and not a Dog Park. Other members on the list serv were for the playground project and wanted to get it started, but she continued to insist there was a conspiracy against the dog park and DPR was behind it. DPR did move forward with the project sans dog park. Not saying this pool incident didn’t happen, but she may have an axe to grind with DPR.

    • Anonymous


  • Original Poster

    Thank you for all of your comments – I have received dozens of emails outlining similar events at this and other DC pools (in addition to 50+ emails of support and 94 petition signatures https://www.change.org/petitions/district-of-columbia-department-of-parks-and-recreation-define-proper-swim-attire-and-train-employees-accordingly. ) I hope even more people will come forward to tell DPR the patterns of unfair and confusing behavior by DPR staff, as it will place additional pressure on improving their staffing and training. Thankfully, DPR has contacted me and seems to be moving quickly to clarify the policy on what proper swim attire is, and promises to retrain their staff after they make a decision.

    Sadly, they are not immediately revoking the trespass warning (despite admitting that it is NOT standard procedure to get a trespass warning for a first time, nonviolent situation at a DC facility). The are investigating it and have promised to revoke it if they find no basis for it, of I am hopeful but wary. They do not seem committed to reviewing or clarifying their procedures related to calling the police or giving out trespass warnings (including not informing patrons of why they are being “removed”). I hope that changes.

    To answer a few questions:
    – The pool roof is glass, the sun’s rays pass through glass, so it does make sense to cover up. Further, as other posters have noted, some people need to cover up for religious reasons, and they should be accomodated.
    – One of the first questions Marvin asked me where my top was from and I said, “I don’t know, do you want to check?” I wasn’t being serious but apparently that was not conveyed by my tone.
    – The cops did not provide their names, despite the fact that I asked for them. One of them said “I’ll get it” but then made us leave before providing their details.
    – I don’t plan to respond to any personal attacks – as demonstrated by this post and listserv comments, this is an ongoing (for over a year) and frustrating situation for many DC residents, I am just one voice.

    I will post any updates as I receive them.

  • Zed

    At best, you are dealing with employees operating with an inconsistent check-box mentality, regarding the rules of the pool. The city should decide what type of shirt (material) is acceptable, come up with some easily identifiable logo to put on the shirt (DC flag maybe), get some shirts made, and sell them at the pools for a reasonable price. That way, there is no longer a question about what type of cover-up shirt is acceptable or not acceptable. They could even donate the funds raised to a charity.

  • Anonymous

    she has trashed and discredited the entire aquatic facility because the believe they dont have to follow the written and poster rules like everyone else. point blank the rules are there for a reasy if you believe it or not. I have encountered her husband and he is hard to talk to. also they are combining two incident with two different black me that work there one .named Timothy and the other Marvin. two completely different people

  • Hold Up!

    Has anyone seen this alleged Tankini? Sometimes our folks drag us into the craziest things. Let’s get a picture of it wet on this girl and then I will say it’s safe to give an opinion. However, if the police placed their hands anywhere on this girl I would advise the parents to file a police complaint immediately and then file with the DC Office of Risk Management for damages.

    On a similar note, there seems to be a growing number of rules at the city’s Aquatic Centers. Yes, I want them to round up Marylanders, Pedafiles and the like and put them out – but when the rules adversely affect a neighborhood’s kid access to the pool that’s another story. Whatever happened to kids walking over to the pool to go swimming? Well in some of DC’s Aquatic Centers they would send your 5’6″ 12 year old kid home for not being accompanied by a parent. This adversely excludes kids who are old enough by law to stay home but not old enough to go to the neighborhood pool on a hot steamy day.

    Now that DC residents have the money for bigger and better facilities, we can’t forget that the recreation centers are for the neighborhood and are often an oasis for youngsters. It’s almost like the Boards of these Aquatic Centers are trying to keep the pools just for the seniors or ‘acceptable’ middle class folk. Have you ever tried to get into a swim class at one of these places? Good luck. It’s as if you have to be on a special list that says – acceptable. We need to pressure our recreation centers to drop this mode of operation and keep the pools accessible to our kids.

    From a DC Property and Income Tax Payer.

  • Anonymous

    Since last summer, I’ve been on a tour of DCPR outdoor pools. I have personally seen the aquatics staff at various facilities inform swimmers that their bathing attire was not allowed. This happens regardless of race.
    Turkey Thicket is my local indoor pool; believe me I have my gripes about the staff… I can say, I have seen them ask people to remove/change certain clothing before entering the pool, again, regardless of race.
    I’m with you on the ambiguity in the ‘dress-code’, this should be fixed. However, I do not think discrimination, based on your staus as a minority at this pool, is what you experienced.

  • a. c. jenkins

    There is a lot of incompetentin the Federal government, too. So what’s your point?
    Oh wait, I get it! The DC government is mostly minority, so that makes you feel better saying the word “Incompetent” right? This is just another “cry reverse racism” tirades by folks who don’t like being told what to do by people of color.
    I am at that very pool virtually every single day, and the argument over what is proper swim attire is an ongoing one even after an explanation, someone will come in with an article of “swim” attire that is ambiguous to policy.
    But I will say this. I have seen the staff there deny swimming privileges to literally dozens of folks based on attire, and the overwhelming majority of those folks were not of the “Caucasian” persuasion. So these impotent cries of reverse racism are just wasting time and creating unnecessary strife and nonsense.


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