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NASW statement on arrest of Michaela Hatton

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) national office in Washington, D.C. and the NASW Virginia Chapter on August 11 received numerous emails and social media messages regarding the June 14 arrest of Michaela Hatton, a recent BSW graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University.

According to the public messages, Ms. Hatton was arrested while leading a Black Lives Matter demonstration against police violence. She was strip searched and held overnight at the Richmond City Jail after being charged with assaulting a police officer and inciting a riot. She was repeatedly denied medical treatment for pain and inflammation resulting from being pepper sprayed. Her mugshot was released the next day and she subsequently lost her job.

One of NASW’s core principles states that social workers challenge social injustice. This principle sets forth one of the ideals to which all social workers should aspire. NASW supports its membership and all social workers who are trying to live up to the NASW Code of Ethics by engaging in “social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully” (NASW Ethical Standards 6.04).

Please be mindful that:

  1. Twitter and Instagram are not official NASW notification channels. Any member seeking legal or other assistance from NASW is strongly encouraged to reach out to us directly.
  2.  Generally, we cannot violate confidentiality and discuss or even acknowledge that a specific person contacted us for help.  We also cannot discuss any outcomes without their written release.  

We thank all of you who have reached out and commend you for the support you have shown our fellow social worker.

We appreciate your input, requests, and considerations and agree that we all must stand strong as one unified powerful voice to defend our Code of Ethics and all matters related.


NASW President Mit Joyner, MSW, BSW, LCSW

NASW CEO Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW

NASW Virginia/ NASW Metro DC Chapter Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE

NASW Vice President of Ethics, Diversity and Inclusion Dawn Hobdy, LICSW


The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.