No-Knock: 1970
President Richard Nixon proposed several “get tough on crime” bills, including one for the District of Columbia.

The D.C. bill included two controversial provisions—no knock and preventive detention.

No-knock would permit police, under certain conditions, to enter a home without announcing themselves or their purpose.

The preventive detention permitted police hold certain suspects up to sixty days without the possibility of bail.

At the time there was no elected local government in the District of Columbia.

Local activists vigorously opposed the bill including Marion Barry and Julius Hobson who urged residents to shoot anyone coming through their door without knocking.

While other leaders didn’t go that far, they urged residents to “take appropriate action.”

The proposal by President Richard Nixon passed both houses of Congress and was signed by Nixon July 29, 1970. The law also permitted pre-trial detention in certain circumstances. A federal no-knock law was also passed in 1970.

Several high profile cases followed. A Norfolk, Va. woman terrified someone was breaking in fired through her door and killed a patrolman. No drugs were found.

In Eureka, Ca. a policeman shot and killed a man fleeing his house during a no-knock raid. No drugs were found.

Locally, Treasury agents and Montgomery County police executed a no-knock raid in 1973 in the Quebec Terrace apartments and shot and paralyzed Kenyon Ballew, a gun collector. No illegal weapons were found.

The federal law was repealed in 1974 after a number of high profile incidents across the country.

The issue has returned in recent years as federal judges are issuing no-knock warrants in increasing numbers.
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