Best and worst from this week’s headlines

Seattle’s ban on plastic drinking straws went into effect last weekend, but this week the trend continued closer to home. The D.C. Council introduced a bill Tuesday to end plastic straw use in the District.

However, a probe into Metropolitan Police Department conduct brought negative news this week. A police organization found some officers inappropriately managed protesters during the inauguration of President Donald Trump in 2017 and released a report about the incidents Tuesday.

Here’s the best and worst from this week’s headlines:

Thumbs up:

Plastic straws are among the most commonly littered items and are not biodegradable – making the ban a positive move.

Items like plastic straws are known as single-use products and are often thrown out immediately after use, causing increased pollution and litter. Most recycling programs don’t accept plastic straws, so the products end up in landfills, the ocean or on the street.

Critics of the straw ban are correct to point out that alternatives to plastic straws aren’t perfect. Reusable straws made of metal or other materials are often be hard to wash and paper straws can melt or disintegrate when used for hot beverages. However, it is easy to purchase brushes made for small spaces and some are easily cleaned in the dishwasher.

But, there is one argument against the ban that should be taken into consideration. Many people with disabilities rely on straws and banning them shouldn’t impact their ability to buy drinks. However, Councilmember Jack Evans, who introduced the bill, has said that exceptions can be made for people with disabilities so the ban can go into effect without discriminating against those who need the product.

While it might be a small step, it’ll help prevent some damage to the environment, and every step counts.

Thumbs down:

An independent review by the Police Foundation revealed this week that officers from the Metropolitan Police Department poorly handled protests during the inauguration of President Donald Trump in 2017. In a time where clashes between police and protesters have made national headlines and tensions have steadily risen, it is important that the District’s police are an example for the rest of the country – but that hasn’t been the case.

While the majority of MPD officers acted appropriately and calmly, one group of demonstrators experienced different conduct from officers.

When some members of the group DistruptJ20 acted violently toward officers before running into the crowd, officers held the entire crowd responsible despite many of them being peaceful protesters and bystanders. MPD arrested 234 people and charged them with rioting, but only 21 were found guilty.

The independent report also stated that officers deployed pepper spray and tear gas “seemingly without warning” on the crowd, regardless of knowledge of their involvement.

Students attended many protests this year, from the March for Our Lives demonstration to the Families Belong Together March, and we should be alarmed by how MPD behaved in this situation.

As students and people of all ages continue to raise their voices about political matters, they should be protected by the police, and it is disheartening that that didn’t happen at the last inauguration.

Kiran Hoeffner-Shah, a sophomore majoring in political science, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.

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