Hundreds of protesters were swept out of a park near the White House on Monday evening, where they were protesting the killing of George Floyd, as President Trump spoke in the Rose Garden a short distance away. The National Guard set off explosions and fired sting balls and gas into the crowds before pushing those gathered out of Lafayette Square shortly before a 7 p.m. curfew announced by D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) earlier in the day.

Trump said he was taking “swift and decisive action to protect our great capital, Washington, D.C.”

“What happened last night was a total disgrace,” the president said. "As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults and the wanton destruction of property. We are putting everybody on warning, our 7 o’clock curfew will be strictly enforced.”

It was the fourth day of protests and unrest in the District, which had seen peaceful demonstrations devolve into looting and vandalism in previous nights.

Here’s what you need to know:

• With 20 minutes left until the District’s 7 p.m. curfew, authorities set off a series of explosions in the middle of a crowd in Lafayette Square, some landing right at protesters’ feet, before forcing demonstrators from the park. President Trump later walked across the area to visit historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, which was damaged in a fire set Sunday.

• Bowser strongly criticized the move by federal authorities to forcefully clear the area around Lafayette Square, saying the actions will make the job of D.C. police officers more difficult.

• After curfew, police began sealing off street after street to surround and arrest protesters in the downtown areas. Groups of protesters continued — including beyond downtown — despite the curfew and heavy law enforcement presence.

June 1, 2020 at 11:27 PM EDT

Prosecutors drop many rioting charges as dozens charged in protests appear in court

Dozens of people arrested over the weekend when mass protests in the District erupted in mayhem were released from custody Monday after appearing in court on an array of charges, including burglary, destruction of property and violating a municipal curfew.

Although many of those arrested were charged by police with felony rioting, that charge was dropped by prosecutors in most cases.

After making their initial appearances in D.C. Superior Court, nearly all defendants were freed pending future court appearances. Renata Cooper, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in the District, declined to comment on the cases.

D.C. police said they made 106 arrests from Saturday through early Monday, including dozens involving charges of felony rioting. But when the arrestees appeared in Superior Court on Monday, the U.S. attorney’s office dismissed rioting charges against most of the defendants. A handful still face that count.

Read more here.

By Keith L. Alexander, Peter Hermann and Michael Laris
June 1, 2020 at 11:03 PM EDT

Attorney general, defense secretary and Joint Chiefs chairman tour downtown during curfew

Attorney General William P. Barr, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Gen. Mark A. Milley, were seen walking Monday night in downtown Washington, where they spoke with members of law enforcement. The District was under a curfew that went into effect at 7 p.m., and protesters were being arrested elsewhere in the city for violating the order.

According to a Telemundo 44 reporter, Barr and Esper spoke with officers near 16th and K streets NW around 9 p.m. The two walked away as reporters shouted questions.

Milley was dressed in uniform as he walked downtown around the same time. In an interview with the Military Times, he said he was out speaking with members of the D.C. National Guard and “seeing how well they’re doing, that’s all.”

Asked what message he is giving to law enforcement officers, Milley replied: “Just to allow the freedom to assemble and the freedom of speech. That’s perfectly fine; we support that. We took an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America to do that, to protect everyone’s rights, and that’s what we do.”

By Felicia Sonmez
June 1, 2020 at 10:40 PM EDT

Protesters spread out from downtown, get arrested for violating curfew

As night fell with downtown Washington under heavy police presence, protest activity spread to other parts of the city, some vandalism was reported and more arrests occurred.

One large group of protesters marched up 14th Street NW to Florida Avenue NW, where they suddenly doubled back and chased several police cars that frantically drove in reverse, officers with spray cans ready at the windows.

When police blocked off 14th Street to the north and Florida Avenue to the east, protesters went down Florida before arriving at Swann and 15th streets. Within minutes, officers arrived by bike and car from all directions, trapping at least 100 protesters on Swann Street.

As the protesters chanted and asked to be let go, a patrol wagon and dozens more officers showed up. “Move back, move back,” an officer shouted, pushing the protesters with their shields and spraying. As the officers pushed them back, at least seven protesters were arrested behind the line.

At 9:30 p.m., just as D.C. police officers pushed protesters east along Swann, into an apparent trap, a solitary protester suddenly came running down the street, approaching the police line from the rear. “Watch your back!” officers screamed to the line of police, some of whom turned around in time to see the young man with long dreads approaching at a high speed.

The man began frantically running in circles until he slipped on some mulch and fell on his stomach, five officers immediately on him. They put zip ties on him and walked him to the paddy wagon.

The officers began leading protesters out of Swann Street one by one.

“I was standing with four white girls. And they chose the one black guy with dreads,” one said loudly to a crowd that had gathered. “I’m being charged and I don’t know why. I didn’t get to go home because they blocked me off.”

By Michael Miller and Peter Jamison
June 1, 2020 at 10:24 PM EDT

Arlington pulls its officers out of D.C. after sweep of protesters before Trump visit

Arlington County officials on Monday night withdrew their police officers from the District.

Arlington police had been helping the U.S. Park Police with crowd control and were used to clear the way for President Trump to make an appearance tonight at St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House — an action that involved firing chemical canisters and stingers at protesters, including families with children, who were demonstrating peacefully before the District’s 7 p.m. curfew went into effect.

The county’s police department had been working at Lafayette Square since Saturday as part of a preexisting mutual aid agreement with the National Park Police, filling in whenever an officer holding the line there got tired, said Libby Garvey, chair of Arlington County Board.

“The next thing we know, they get pulled in to do this photo op,” Garvey (D) said. “Our mutual aid agreement is to help each other when we’re trying to protect people; not for photo ops.

“It endangered everybody in the park. It endangered all of our officers,” Garvey said. “We don’t do that.”

Said Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz: "The mutual aid agreement is not put in place to allow for a blatantly political act. Crowd control is a far cry from assisting someone to stand in front of a church.”

Garvey said the county will reevaluate its long-standing agreement with the Park Police and said the county’s police will not be helping with any future protests in the nation’s capital until it decides on a course of action.

“We’re in a bad place,” Garvey said. “This is an abuse of our mutual aid agreement."

By Antonio Olivo and Patricia Sullivan
June 1, 2020 at 9:23 PM EDT

Bowser, council members slam federal authorities for clearing out protesters before curfew

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) strongly criticized the move by federal authorities Monday evening to forcefully clear the area around Lafayette Square, which appeared to be done so that President Trump could walk through the park to stand in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, which was damaged in a small fire on Sunday night.

“I imposed a curfew at 7 pm,” Bowser wrote on Twitter. “A full 25 minutes before the curfew & w/o provocation, federal police used munitions on peaceful protestors in front of the White House, an act that will make the job of @DCPoliceDept officers more difficult. Shameful! DC residents — Go home. Be safe.”

Police in the park fired flash-bang explosives into a crowd of protesters on H Street NW, along with tear gas and rubber bullets, and then a mounted line of police pushed through the crowd, forcing them two blocks away from the park.

During an evening address at the White House, Trump made a statement saying that he would use military force if governors and mayors don’t better control the unrest in their cities. He then walked to the church and held up a Bible.

The leaders of the church said they were unaware that the president was using the church for an apparent photo opportunity.

Members of the D.C. Council joined Bowser in criticizing the federal actions.

“These actions are sickening,” Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) wrote on Twitter. “Protesters are calling for an end to violence by police and the state and the President is throwing gas on the fire by calling them terrorists and sending the military into our city to enforce the mayor’s curfew.”

“The killing of George Floyd,” Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) tweeted, “demands justice not a morally bankrupt president who takes pride in inflaming racial tensions, using the military to suppress peaceful protests and trampling our nation’s fundamental principles of liberty and justice.”

Council members Brianne K. Nadeau (D-Ward 1) and Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) also took to Twitter to criticize the federal actions.

By Tom Jackman
June 1, 2020 at 9:22 PM EDT

Police begin arresting protesters in downtown D.C.

Police surrounded and then began arresting protesters in downtown Washington on Monday evening, apparently for violating the city’s 7 p.m. curfew. About 50 people were arrested, police said.

D.C. police, in step-by-step, street-by-street fashion, formed lines starting about 8 p.m. that sealed off streets around a group of about 30 or more protesters at 16th and I streets NW until the protesters had nowhere to go.

The officers — with MPDC (Metropolitan Police of D.C.) on their helmets and carrying shields and batons — first formed lines at K and 16th streets NW and pushed the protesters south to Eye Street NW, which was already cordoned off from the east. To the west, another line of officers formed at I and 17th streets NW and moved in until eventually the protesters were penned in.

Police then closed in tighter until the protesters were encircled.

For 20 minutes or so, the protesters remained on foot, chanting and waving signs, as police backed in vans to take them away. Then, after the group of protesters was directed to sit on the street, the police led them one by one to the vehicles.

Most complied peacefully. Shoes were removed, fingerprints taken and belongings bagged. Police removed a can of black spray paint from a backpack belonging to a young man in a T-shirt and khaki shorts. A young woman went limp on the street and four officers carried her closer to the van; later, she got up and walked.

Another young man — who declined to identify himself — sprawled on the street and kept up a steady patter aimed at the police, saying he once looked up to them as heroes but not anymore. When they picked him up because he refused to move, he shouted, “I am not an animal.”

A police officer on the scene said about 50 people were taken into custody.

By Rebecca Tan and Fredrick Kunkle
June 1, 2020 at 9:14 PM EDT

Justice Dept. sends all law enforcement components to ‘assist in the restoration of order’ in D.C.

The Justice Department on Monday deployed all of its law enforcement components to “assist in the restoration of order to the District of Columbia” — a highly unusual move, as many federal law enforcement officials are far removed from such work.

In a statement, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive, the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals, and Bureau of Prisons would all assist in the effort, and they were “closely coordinating with the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security to maximize federal security presence throughout the District.”

“The Department is working hand-in-hand with the Metropolitan Police Department, the Capitol Police, the Federal Protective Service, the U.S. Secret Service, and the D.C. National Guard,” Kupec said.

The move represents another escalation of the federal response to the unrest, particularly in D.C. Earlier Monday, a senior Justice Department official said Barr had directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to send riot teams to Miami and the District and activated the FBI’s hostage rescue team in the nation’s capital.

The official said all of the FBI’s field offices were also helping respond to protests, but in an investigative role. As local police make arrests, the official said, the FBI will interview those in custody and assess if any federal crimes have been committed, such as crossing state lines to engage in illegal acts.

The Justice Department announced Monday night that a man from Chicago had been arrested for allegedly rioting in Minneapolis.

By Matt Zapotosky
June 1, 2020 at 7:34 PM EDT

Trump visits St. John’s church after protesters pushed out from area

Shortly after mounted police forced protesters away from Lafayette Square, President Trump walked through the park and spoke briefly to the news media in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church along H Street.

Protesters gathered in front of the historic church on Sunday night, ripped an American flag from its exterior, and then set fire to a basement office. Fire officials said the damage was minimal, and no damage could be seen from the outside. Fires were also set on H Street and to the bathroom building in the park, across from the church.

Protesters were back on Monday evening, but were swept away by police using flash-bang explosives, pepper spray pellets and tear gas, while Trump spoke to the nation from the Rose Garden.

When the area around the church was cleared, Trump and a large group of people, most of them not wearing masks, walked through Lafayette Square to the church.

The president held up a Bible for several seconds. A reporter asked him if it was his Bible and he said, “It’s a Bible."

“We have a great country,” he said. “That’s my thoughts. Greatest country in the world.”

The Right Rev. Mariann Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, said she learned of Trump’s visit by watching it on the news. “I don’t want President Trump speaking for St. John’s,” Budde said. She said she wanted to speak with the church’s rector, the Rev. Robert W. Fisher, before saying anything else.

On CNN Monday night, Fisher said, “We had no warning this would happen and It troubles me greatly people in a peaceful protest were removed from the square by tear gas. It’s not what we are about, plain and simple.“

Following presidential tradition set by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Trump attended a service at St. John’s before his swearing-in ceremony on Inauguration Day in January 2017. He visited the church again later that year to mark a national day of prayer for victims of Hurricane Harvey and in 2019 on St. Patrick’s Day.

After his remarks on H Street, where protesters stood just minutes earlier, Trump walked back to the White House.

By Tom Jackman and Sarah Pulliam Bailey
June 1, 2020 at 7:08 PM EDT

Before Trump speaks, police sweep protesters away from Lafayette Square

Moments before President Trump began speaking at the White House about the need to crush protests that he said were not peaceful, police fired flash-bang shells that exploded in the middle of a crowd of protesters outside Lafayette Square, and then mounted police pushed through H Street and forced protesters two blocks from the park.

As protesters fled, choking on gas and stunned by rubber bullets, Trump said, “I am mobilizing all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting. To end the destruction and arson, and to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your Second Amendment rights.”

On H Street, members of the National Guard moved up while police squeezed inward, forcing protesters down 16th Street NW, toward I Street. Members of the Guard aimed their guns directly at some protesters on top of the bathroom building at Lafayette Square.

At least one protester was hit and stumbled onto the street. As officials moved the crowd further down 16th Street, some yelled “Walk! Walk!” in attempts to avoid a stampede. In the brief moments of calm, some tried to take a knee. But it was never more than a few minutes before the lines of police would push up again.

“They’re flushing us out,” said another protester.

As the chaos unfolded across from the White House, Trump said in the Rose Garden, “I am also taking swift and decisive action to protect our great capital, Washington, D.C. What happened last night was a total disgrace. As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults and the wanton destruction of property. We are putting everybody on warning, our 7 o’clock curfew will be strictly enforced.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) announced earlier Monday that the District would be under a curfew from 7 p.m. Monday until 6 a.m. Tuesday and again Tuesday evening.

By Rebecca Tan and Tom Jackman
June 1, 2020 at 6:46 PM EDT

Attorney General Barr visits police in Lafayette Square

Attorney General William P. Barr walked through Lafayette Square on Monday evening, surrounded by a security detail, and apparently met with some of the massive law enforcement presence that has controlled the park near the White House since protests broke out there on Saturday.

Protesters said they spotted Barr and saw him greet the front-line officers. Neither Barr nor the security detail appeared to be wearing masks.

“I saw them and said ‘take off your jackets and stay a while,’” said Forrest Hainline. “Wouldn’t it be nice to see them take a knee in those nice suits.”

Others greeted the attorney general with expletives, “f--- Bill Barr,” they chanted.

By Perry Stein
June 1, 2020 at 6:15 PM EDT

Bowser welcomes federal law enforcement to protect federal land after Trump vows aggressive action in D.C.

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said Monday that her administration has been in contact with federal government officials, hours after President Trump said his administration would escalate the response to unrest in Washington with “something people haven’t seen before.”

Asked about the comment, Bowser said it appeared to be a reference to the president’s push to deploy more federal law enforcement to protest-struck cities. She said she would welcome that support — to protect federal land.

“We have been in communication with federal authorities,” the mayor said. “We will continue to work with our federal partners. We do expect that there will be more federal assets, as they say, deployed in or around the District of Columbia. Our focus and what we think would be important for those additional assets would be on federal properties and monuments and memorials,” Bowser said, adding later that “federal assets could be helpful for the monuments and memorials.”

Bowser also noted that her administration has direct oversight over local law enforcement but not over federal officials. “I will say I know the values of the Metropolitan Police Department, I know that our officers know our expectations of them, and they know how to work with our community, and they know they are accountable to the chief and to me and to independent bodies in this government for how they behave,” said Bowser. “We can’t always say those same things about other entities.”

Bowser’s comments came after weekend protests devolved into some looting of stores, the setting of fires and damage to property. She extended a city curfew to 7 p.m. Monday through 6 a.m. Tuesday and again Tuesday evening. D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said officers may ask to see the credentials of essential workers and media who are exempt from the curfew.

The D.C. National Guard is expected to have an expanded set of missions Monday night, and active-duty forces will be on alert as the city prepares for another possible night of unrest, two defense officials said. Large personnel carriers with guard members were seen rumbling down Constitution Avenue on Monday afternoon.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said that U.S. officials are also discussing the possibility of using the Insurrection Act for the nation’s capital. The law allows the president to deploy active-duty military forces to quell unrest. The officials spoke ahead of an expected announcement from the Trump administration Monday evening.

By Fenit Nirappil and Dan Lamothe
June 1, 2020 at 5:37 PM EDT

Crowd of 1,000 marches through downtown Baltimore

A young woman, with a thick crown of black hair, stood in the trunk of a white pickup truck and crooned into a microphone: “Power! Transformation! Miracles! I neeeed it!”

A crowd of nearly 1,000 people — the single largest crowd to descend on Baltimore since protesters nationwide took to the streets calling for justice for George Floyd — responded: “We neeeed it!”

The youth-organized protest attracted a crowd of young, diverse faces to Baltimore’s convention center, which sits between the city’s Inner Harbor and baseball stadium. Black, Asian and white faces shouted Floyd’s name. One sign read: “Latinos for Black Lives.”

Police helicopters circled above the mass of peaceful protesters that was headed toward City Hall. Organizers — wearing shirts with purple Xs taped to them — reminded people to stay peaceful. “If you see someone inciting something, tell someone in purple,” a woman wearing a purple X yelled.

The peaceful protests are a contrast to demonstrations held five years ago, after the city raged in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray. Gray, 25, was arrested in the Gilmor Homes public housing complex in West Baltimore in 2015, and placed in the back of a police van with his hands cuffed behind his back and his legs shackled. As he was being transported, he suffered a severe neck injury. He died in a hospital about a week later.

“A lot has changed in the last five years,” said Denzell Campbell, 26, from West Baltimore. “This is actually pretty peaceful. I feel very hopeful. I feel like things are changing.”

But not everyone was as optimistic. Angela, who declined to give her last name, said she came to protest systems that aren’t designed to protect black people like herself. She’s in her 30s, she said.

“I don’t think anything has changed. We’re still here,” Angela said. “I’m disgusted.”

By Lauren Lumpkin
June 1, 2020 at 5:11 PM EDT

Protesters gather outside Trump hotel, and some D.C. officers take a knee

A group of hundreds of protesters marched through the streets of downtown Washington on Monday afternoon, chanting “Black Lives Matter!” and slogans denouncing President Trump as they approached his hotel at 11th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

D.C. police officers on bicycles raced to the scene and positioned themselves in front of the Trump International Hotel. Protesters pressed up against a barrier, knelt down and yelled to police: “Kneel with us! Kneel with us!”

A female African American officer who identified herself only as Officer Brown looked straight at the protesters, gripping her bicycle. When she took a knee, the crowd erupted in cheers.

Attention then turned to the more than a dozen other officers. “Officer, do you agree with us?” asked Leo West, a 20 year old Alma College (Michigan) student from Takoma Park wearing a Black Lives Matter facemask.

Suddenly the officer, an African American whose uniform gave his name as P.D. Harris, briefly sank to his knee. “You’re a good man, Officer,” West shouted. “All of you can do it. Be like Officer Harris.”

Somehow, they seemed to listen. Half a dozen more officers sank to their knee as well.

But by now, Officer Harris was on his feet. “Do it again,” urged Edward Dana, a 24 year old University of DC student and employee of the department of disability services. When Harris refused, Dana became upset.

Suddenly another protester he’d met just a few hours earlier intervened. “Let’s be cool,” said Tony Norris, A 22-year-old from Waldorf, Md., who worked in a music store until the coronavirus pandemic hit.

“This man still has a family to get back to,” said Norris, who is African American. “He’ll take a knee when he needs to.” Harris gave a fist bump to a passing protester, and Dana left with the rest of the crowd.

But the interaction left West, who is white, frustrated. “He took a knee for a second, but then he stood back up,” he said. “They will take a knee with us but as soon as s--- hits the fan, they always stand back up.”

Officer Harris declined to give his full name or to comment. “I think you understand,” he said, still standing in front of the Trump Hotel.

Perched on top of an electrical box, 26-year-old Daniel Smith caught it all on his phone. The D.C. native came after his work at a spice factory and wanted to broadcast what he saw on Facebook.

“I don’t know — I think it’s a kind of conflict resolution,” he said about the officers after jumping off the box. “It’s a strategy.”

Earlier Monday, District Police Chief Peter Newsham was asked about officers who knelt during protests, as at least one did Sunday night at 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

“There is nobody on this police department that I know that isn’t personally impacted by what we saw in Minneapolis with the death of George Floyd,” Newsham said. “Our police officers, just like everyone else, are human beings. But also we have a job to do. We have to ensure that the people who are set on destroying our city are held accountable for that, so we have to have that balance.

“The one side of me is very happy that people understand how we feel about this issue and how we are appalled by this issue. On the same token, we are very, very disturbed to be here in this city and to see some people tearing up our city. As the mayor mentioned, that is not advancing the cause, that is not a respectful way to treat the memory of a person who unnecessarily lost his life in this country.”

This post has been updated.

By Rebecca Tan and Michael Miller
June 1, 2020 at 5:05 PM EDT

Authorities marshaling forces, blocking streets for unrest tonight

After Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) announced a 7 p.m. curfew for Washington tonight and Tuesday evening, signs of a ramped-up law enforcement presence became apparent Monday afternoon.

At 4:30 p.m., both local officers and federal agents began shutting down intersections downtown. Law enforcement, identified by their vests as Drug Enforcement Administration agents, set up a roadblock at 7th and K streets NW near the Walter Washington Convention Center. Mount Vernon Square was closed to cars before 5 p.m. In addition, streets heading north from Constitution Avenue were starting to be blocked.

President Trump issued an ominous warning earlier Monday in a recorded call to a group of state governors.

“Washington was under very good control, but we are going to have it under much more control,” Trump said. “We are going to pull in thousands of people.”

At RFK Stadium, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Denise Rucker Krepp tweeted of seeing military vehicles staging in the area.

By Tom Jackman
June 1, 2020 at 4:25 PM EDT

Richmond police made more than 230 arrests during Sunday rioting

Richmond police arrested more than 230 people overnight Sunday, about half of them non-city residents, authorities said Monday, although they did not provide specifics about the nonresidents or how that information was determined. The numbers reflect stepped-up enforcement by city police, bolstered by officers from surrounding counties.

Virginia’s capital city has experienced three nights of demonstrations, with vandalism, looting and arson. Police made no arrests Friday night and just two Saturday, when activists tore down a temporary fence erected at the entrance to the state Capitol, pelted police with bottles and ravaged shops in the city’s historically black Jackson Ward neighborhood.

Protesters also set fire to an apartment building Saturday and blocked a firetruck from reaching the scene, where a child was trapped. Police eventually pushed through, and the child and other occupants were rescued.

Three police officers have been injured. Two Capitol Police officers were treated for leg injuries after being struck by objects thrown at them — a beer bottle in one case, a metal baseball bat in the other — while defending the main entrance to Capitol Square on Saturday night. A city officer suffered a minor injury Friday. All three were treated at hospitals and released.

There seemed to be far less property damage Sunday night, when an 8 p.m. curfew was in effect. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) imposed it at the request of Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D). After a tense standoff on Broad Street, just north of the Capitol, police lobbed tear gas into the crowd, and demonstrators scattered into surrounding streets. Police eventually arrested the 233 people. Twenty-three firearms were recovered and 16 cars related to the protest were towed, two of them registered in the city, officials said.

By Laura Vozzella and Gregory S. Schneider
June 1, 2020 at 4:03 PM EDT

D.C. businesses continue boarding up in anticipation of protests

After the damage done amid unrest in the downtown business district and the neighborhoods of Shaw, Tenleytown and Georgetown late Sunday, business owners who had not already nailed up sheets of plywood over their glass storefronts were doing so Monday.

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) on Monday asked business districts in Georgetown, downtown and in the Mount Vernon Triangle to board up shops, a spokeswoman confirmed.

Boards also were going up in the nightlife districts of H Street NE and the U Street and 14th Street corridors in Northwest. Workers boarded up the windows of the Warby Parker store at U and 8th streets and the SoulCycle on 14th Street.

Boards had already gone up on the windows of some restaurants, including the Fainting Goat on U Street, where chalk drawings by employees advertising “cocktails to go” were juxtaposed with graffiti. Next door, the glass in a door at Pure Lounge, a nightclub, had been smashed.

“Sorry, we’re closed,” read a sign still in the door.

In Georgetown, Ifat Pridam swept dust out of her clothing boutique Monday morning, shooting glances at the boarded-up antique store across the street and biting her lip.

LiLi the First, the women’s clothing store Pridam has owned for six years in Georgetown, was boarded up, too. Sheets of grainy wood hid the pretty dresses, suit-pant power outfits and splashy-but-office-appropriate statement jewelry.

The store has been covered since Sunday morning, when Pridam stopped by — she still goes in to clean and check on things, although the coronavirus long ago forced LiLi to switch to online sales — and noticed destruction in other parts of Georgetown, where the window of at least one clothing store was smashed Saturday night.

Pridam called a friend who works in construction and paid him $500 to nail wood across her shop door and windows. As he worked throughout the day Sunday, curious nearby shop owners walked up and asked whether he could do their stores, too.

As Pridam leaned on the broom for a moment’s rest, two women wandered up, both in masks. Gretchen Whitney and Susana Ferrando had been out since 9:30 a.m. inspecting the damage to their neighborhood. They had already helped pull plastic sheeting over the windows of another antique store farther up the street.

“When did you put these up?” asked Whitney, 71. Pridam told her.

In the downtown area, a woman repeatedly tried to power-wash an anti-Trump vulgarity off the side of the Woodward Building on 15th Street. Two men drilled plywood into the one window still visible at St. John’s Church. Security guards fastened locks around barriers at Lafayette Square. One boy asked his dad: “What is going on down here? It looks so different.”

By Rachel Chason, Hannah Natanson and Emily Davies
June 1, 2020 at 3:44 PM EDT

A quiet protest in front of Lafayette Square

At about 2:30 p.m. Monday, a group of about 200 protesters sat on the pavement at H and 16th streets, where the signs were covered in red graffiti and the windows of St. John’s Episcopal Church remained boarded up. A family and a pastor stood in front of the church handing out “free water and prayer,” as a sign stated.

Protesters on the ground passed out boxes of Papa John’s pizza as a young man in a tie-dyed shirt walked around with hand sanitizer. Christian music played from speakers. Families with small children walked by to see the crowd.

A moment later, a row of officers approached the barricades at Lafayette Square, U.S. Park Police officers on the east side and Secret Service on the west. “Stand up!” a woman shouted, and the group approached the metal barricades, shouting “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe.”

Among them was D.C. resident Kyle Burnett, 32, who hadn’t been able to make it to the weekend protests because he was taking care of his nephews. Asked about the chaos of the night before, he said it further emboldened him to come out on Monday. He has been frustrated by the tense police response, he said.

“They don’t get why we’re doing this. We built it, so we should burn it,” Burnett said.

“It’s been getting to a boiling point, and it’s going to explode,” said his friend Andrew Green, 29.

A few steps away, Bruce Cobb, 21, and Makia Thornbyke, 20, said this is their third day of protesting. After driving in from Waldorf, Md., the first day, they decided to get a hotel room in downtown Washington through Monday night, so they could stay as late as needed at night. Both of them have been laid off from their jobs at restaurants in Waldorf, and have more free time to protest. “So why not be here?” Thornbyke said.

But she wishes more people would show up to the peaceful protests in the morning. She doesn’t think it’s right to only come at night, when the riots escalate. The looting and fires at night have been “surreal,” Cobb said.

“Now it’s getting out of hand, but I feel like this is the only way we will be heard,” he said. “It might be crazy, but we’re definitely making a point.”

By Samantha Schmidt
June 1, 2020 at 3:14 PM EDT

Mall is quiet, solemn after weekend of protests

Amid joggers and the occasional tourist Monday on the Mall, remnants of Sunday night’s protest lingered, serving as quiet yet profound reminders of the anguish that tore through D.C. over the weekend.

Yinka Onayemi, 25, and Phillip Baumgart, 30, sat on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at noon. The Georgetown graduate students had met for the first time just before 10 a.m., when each showed up with a mask and a sign.

“I picked here because people need to be reminded that the message of this memorial is incomplete, the spirit of it is incomplete,” said Onayemi, who held a sign that read “When Does The/Our American Dream Begin?”

Onayemi spent 16 hours in front of the memorial over the weekend, refusing to eat while he protested. “I want to feel the pain in my body of what is going on right now,” he said, listening to “Meditate” by Earthgang in one ear. Baumgart sat about six feet away from Onayemi with a sign that read, “White Silence is Violence.”

“I had idealized this country and certain ideals that we have,” he said, pulling his shirt over his ears to protect himself from the sun. “Now it is hard not to see this country’s promise of equality as anything but a farce.”

A mix of tourists and locals showed up to the Mall on Monday. Some picked up trash, others searched for hope after Sunday night’s riots. “I am not religious, but the Lincoln Memorial is as close to church as I get,” said Lillian Clementi, 61, who took a walk around the Mall on Monday morning. “I am moved every time I see this city, and I just hope all of these protests will lead to change.”

Just in front of the Washington Monument, a different type of protest took place. Scott Smith, a 54-year-old government contractor, stood waving an American flag in the middle of Constitution Avenue, blocking traffic.

“I am doing this because there are people attacking our country,” he said, referencing the protesters that took to D.C. streets over the weekend. “Why do you want to burn things down?”

Birds chirped, people jogged, and one by one, more people began to sit on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. One woman held her fist in the air.

By Emily Davies
June 1, 2020 at 3:01 PM EDT

Metro to stop bus, train service early Monday night for curfew

Metro is suspending service early Monday evening due to a 7 p.m. curfew in place for the District.

Metro trains will stop running one hour early, at 8 p.m., the transit agency said. The last trains will depart downtown at 8 p.m., while trains coming from outside the downtown core will stop running before 8 p.m.

Bus service will end at 9 p.m., Metro said. Buses that are already on the street by 9 p.m. will go out of service after completing their route.

MetroAccess riders are also affected. Metro said no Access trips will be made after 9 p.m.

Read more here.

By Luz Lazo
June 1, 2020 at 2:15 PM EDT

VA sends employees home early after headquarters is targeted overnight

The Department of Veterans Affairs, whose headquarters on Vermont Avenue is steps from the White House, ordered all nonessential employees to go home by noon Monday to maintain their safety from protesters.

As the Sunday protests spread from nearby Lafayette Square, demonstrators began hurling rocks and heavy items at the VA headquarters about 11 p.m., and vandals spray-painted on the building’s signs. When a contingent of police arrived at the scene, the protesters fled. The building did not appear to be significantly damaged.

But with D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser setting a curfew for 7 p.m. Monday, which could cause protests to begin earlier, the VA decided to clear out early.

Here is the internal email the agency sent to employees at 10 a.m.:

“To all those currently working in HQ VACO facilities or planning to come in today — unless you are in an operational facility, security, or command and control function — due to the activities taking place in the downtown DC area and declarations by local authorities, please consider working at home for your safety and for the safety of others. For those of you currently in VACO facilities — unless you are in an operational facility, security, or command and control function — you need to return to safety at home or in another secure area today, BEFORE NOON today. Maximum telework is encouraged.”

By Lisa Rein and Tom Jackman
June 1, 2020 at 2:11 PM EDT

Walgreens on U Street filling prescriptions through a shattered glass door

A small group of people who needed their prescriptions filled gathered outside the Walgreens at the corner of 13th and U streets Northwest on Monday afternoon, where employees were filling prescriptions through a shattered glass door.

“Store is currently closed,” read a sign taped to the open door where the glass had been smashed. “However, we can still help you with your prescriptions.”

“Thank you for having the courage to open,” Janet Sharp, 73, told the employee who filled her prescription for blood pressure medication. She had already tried the Walgreens on 14th Street but said it was closed because of looting.

Sharp, who is retired, said she arrived in the District two weeks after the riots of 1968 tore through this area. She said that the damage this weekend paled in comparison to what she saw then, but she is worried that it won’t stop.

“I hope this is all it is,” she said. “But I am afraid that people are going to get so frustrated that it won’t stop.”

By Rachel Chason
June 1, 2020 at 2:02 PM EDT

Groups gather — peacefully and not — in Montgomery County

There have been sporadic demonstrations and destruction of property in Montgomery County since Sunday morning.

About 45 Montgomery County police officers converged Sunday night in the Friendship Heights area along the D.C. line to try to control a crowd of about 200 people, said Capt. Sean Gagen, commander of the department’s Bethesda district. The officers — uniformed patrol officers and riot-control officers carrying clear shields — fanned out along Western Avenue, which separates Montgomery County and the District.

“The group we were watching had nothing to do with protesting,” Gagen said. “They were bent on causing destruction and mayhem and looting.”

Some in the group crashed through store windows on the D.C. side of the border and made their way into a CVS drugstore, Gagen said. D.C. police were able to disperse looters from the store, Gagen said. Gagen was on the scene and said the crowd was composed mostly of young people — teenagers or those in their early 20s — who he said were effectively hijacking the important message being espoused by peaceful protesters. “We need to move past the destruction and mayhem that we’re all witnessing so we can bring about real, needed reforms,” Gagen said.

Some in the crowd Sunday night who made their way into Montgomery County damaged two stores, including a Bloomingdale’s, Gagen said. No one got into the two stores, Gagen said.

The commander said investigators are reviewing Metro video and other security video to try to identify suspects. He said no arrests had been made. In the same area around 5 a.m. Sunday, a group of people broke into a nearby Saks Fifth Avenue store in Montgomery County. Officers were alerted by an alarm and a call from Saks security staffers, who could see inside the store on their remote video feeds, Gagen said. Responding officers saw several cars fleeing the area and found at least one purse from the store that was apparently dropped by the intruders.

Gagen said investigators are trying to determine whether the burglary was related to the demonstrations or was more of a traditional break-in.

To the north, in the Crystal Rock Drive area of Germantown, more than 100 protesters gathered Sunday afternoon and were largely peaceful, said Capt. Mark Plazinski, commander of the county’s Germantown district. The protesters blocked traffic in the area. No one was injured or arrested, though a car window was reportedly broken, Plazinski said. Officers had provided a “protective bubble” around the group, Plazinski said.

By Dan Morse
June 1, 2020 at 1:36 PM EDT

D.C. mayor defends leadership after downtown looting, about‐face on curfews

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) is imposing three consecutive days of curfews after chaos and looting linked to protests. It was an about-face for the mayor, who said on national television Sunday morning that the people who have been disruptive would not abide by a curfew. Hours later, she imposed an 11 p.m. curfew.

On Monday morning, she announced curfews for two more days starting at 7 p.m. The mayor said curfews helped police focus on lawbreakers and are starting earlier because protests have been taking turns for the worse at night.

“This is not a decision that we take lightly, this is an inconvenient decision for many who live here and work here in the District of Columbia, this will disrupt your lives,” D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said at a news conference. “This was a decision forced upon us by the behavior of people who are intent on coming to our city and destroying property and hurting people.”

Bowser spent the morning surveying damage to downtown buildings, which included fires at the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church across from Lafayette Square and the lobby of the AFL-CIO headquarters on 16th Street. The property damage included arson, broken windows and burned trash cans, and it occurred despite heavy law enforcement presence.

“I can assure you that this police chief and force and certainly me are very focused on maintaining public order,” the mayor said. “I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of business owners who were the subject of some of that vandalism and looting, and many of them said that they did see the police and saw the police arrive and there were just quite a number of people that were engaged in that activity.”

The police chief said he didn’t know of instances in which officers didn’t stop a looting in progress — which Washington Post reporters observed repeatedly on Sunday, sometimes for extended periods — but acknowledged intervention can be risky.

“One of the tactics that we are seeing is when we do take police action in the large crowds that it agitates the crowds and it becomes very volatile and very dangerous for our officers,” Newsham said. “We have to balance the safety of the people that are there with ensuring that we are holding people accountable. At the end of the day, it is my sense that when this is over that our community is going to be extremely frustrated with the bad actors who are causing this and doing this to our community.”

He added that police will continue pursuing vandals who escaped arrest Sunday night by reviewing city and private surveillance footage. So far, 88 people have been arrested, with about two-thirds charged with felonies.

Both Bowser and Newsham also said that those involved in damaging property were taking the spotlight away from legitimate protesters demonstrating against systemic racism and police violence. The mayor pushed back when asked whether her government bore responsibility for the changing spotlight by not preventing the destruction.

“The people who are looting are responsible for the looting, and we are responsible for finding them,” she said.

Bowser also spoke to the secretary of the U.S. Army about how to deploy the local National Guard during the protest response. City officials said the National Guard mostly supported U.S. Park Police on Sunday and were not available to staff all posts requested by the local government.

Bowser said Monday that she empathizes with constituents struggling under the stress of a global pandemic, a worsening economy and civil unrest.

“There’s a lot of heavy, heavy things happening to people all at once and most people can’t ever think of an occasion like this in their lives where they are dealing with anxieties about health, employment, how they are going to pay their bills,” Bowser said. “Now they see this horrible killing and many horrible killings and now they see their beloved city being attacked. There’s just a lot of things for people to process.”

She continued: “I think people are also very torn because they feel so sad and angry about the killing of George Floyd, very empathetic, but also they don’t want their city torn up. So I think that is what we are managing.”

By Fenit Nirappil
June 1, 2020 at 1:30 PM EDT

Barr escalates federal response to unrest, deploying Bureau of Prisons riot squads and FBI hostage rescue team

Attorney General William P. Barr has directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to send riot teams to Miami and Washington, D.C., as part of the federal government’s escalating response to the civil unrest across the country, a senior Justice Department official said.

The official said all FBI field offices are also setting up command posts, and will work with local law enforcement on possibly bringing federal charges against those who cross state lines to riot. As local police make arrests, the official said, the FBI will interview those in custody and assess if any federal crimes have been committed.

The Justice Department has become keenly focused on the violence in D.C. On Sunday night, Barr sent the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team to assist local police.

A Special Operations Response Team from the Bureau of Prisons was present in Miami over the weekend, and one will now be active in the District, the official said.

By Matt Zapotosky
June 1, 2020 at 1:29 PM EDT

Volunteers sweep glass while onlookers photograph graffiti

Around 10:30 a.m. Monday, a group of young men stepped out of their cars a block from the White House, ready to again show their support for the ongoing protests in their hometown. But this time, they brought brooms, dust pans and trash bags.

“We are with the movement, we are with Black Lives Matter, but we don’t see the sense in destroying private businesses,” said Teddy Tesfaye, 21.

The six friends, who returned to the District when the coronavirus closed their colleges, swept their way down 15th Street. They joined maintenance workers managing the piles of glass shards in front of Bobby Van’s Steakhouse, one of the few businesses on the block that had yet to cover its windows in plywood sheets. Across downtown, the plywood had become blank canvases for messages of anger and desperation written in spray paint: “Say their names,” “Black people matter” and “My life matters.”

On buildings with graffiti, construction crews and volunteers scrubbed the words with paint thinner and sprayed them with high-pressure hoses, turning the messages into inky shadows. Dozens of people, many without masks, wandered the streets with their iPhones raised, taking pictures of the graffiti and the damage before they were gone.

Tesfaye and his friends worked around the onlookers. Most of the friends had been out protesting earlier in the weekend. But Monday morning, they went to Home Depot to buy cleaning supplies.

“This is my home,” said Cam Brown, 20. “Why would I destroy my home?”

After an hour, they checked Twitter to figure out which other neighborhoods needed cleaning up. As they debated whether to go to Georgetown or Chinatown, a police cruiser pulled up. The passenger side window rolled down. Inside, an officer gave them a thumbs-up. “Thank you,” he said, and the group waved back.

By Jessica Contrera