Protesters descending on Washington for a fifth day of demonstrations on Tuesday found one of the nation’s most symbolic places for political rallies — Lafayette Square, across from White House — entirely closed off with a tall chain-link fence. Thousands of people protesting George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody were forced to gather outside the park earlier Tuesday, where a day before peaceful demonstrators had been forcefully cleared by federal forces at the behest of Attorney General William P. Barr. It was the largest crowd since Washington protests began Friday night.

Here are some significant developments:

• The protests, which had been peaceful much of Tuesday, grew heated early Wednesday morning as law enforcement aimed pepper spray and pepper bullets at demonstrators and some protesters launched a firework toward authorities at Lafayette Square near the White House.

• The crowd in the park had thinned for a few hours after the District’s 7 p.m. curfew took effect, but began to swell into the hundreds again after 11 p.m.

• Attorney General William P. Barr personally ordered law enforcement officials on the ground to extend the perimeter around Lafayette Square just before President Trump spoke Monday, a person familiar with the matter said.

• John Falcicchio, the chief of staff for D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), confirmed Tuesday that federal officials, including at the White House, inquired about their powers to take control of the city’s police department. He said city officials objected and would mount a legal challenge if federal officials tried to do so.

5:36 a.m.
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Demonstrator arrested near Trump hotel

D.C. police arrested one demonstrator outside the Trump hotel in downtown Washington early Wednesday morning after the protester broke off from a group marching toward the U.S. Capitol and rode his bike directly into a line of city officers on bikes.

The larger group of around 50 people continued their march, flanked by nearly as many law enforcement officers.

They had left Lafayette Square near the White House after 1 a.m., illuminated by the spotlight of a helicopter overhead. They marched past Freedom Plaza, chanting.

When they reached Pennsylvania Avenue, they turned toward the Capitol, toward the Trump hotel.

Moments later, D.C. police officers in cars and on bikes appeared around them at Freedom Plaza. But the officers didn’t approach the protesters, even when they were taunted and spit on.

4:52 a.m.
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Pepper pellets sprayed by law enforcement, fireworks set by protesters near White House

Hours of peaceful protests Tuesday gave way to pepper bullets and fireworks at Lafayette Square around 12:45 a.m. Wednesday

Protesters threw water bottles and shook the fence separating them from a line of law enforcement officers near the White House nearly six hours after the citywide curfew took effect. The officers quickly approached and started firing pepper bullets and pepper spray.

A firework that appeared to be launched by the protesters hit the base of the fence.

The firework, which appeared to come from the protesters, hit the ground right by the fence, toward the west side of 16th Street NW.

“I was trying to shake the fence. They just kept shooting me,” said Adam Campbell, 31, a software engineer from Frederick, Md., who was struck by pellets filled with an irritant powder. He sat cross-legged on a curb afterward, having trouble catching his breath as others offered water to flush his eyes. He was then helped to a “medic station” near St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Zoe Wilocutts, 18, from Takoma Park, Md., said she wasn’t provoking anyone before she was struck.

She said she was kneeling and holding her hands in the air 10 feet away from the fence when an officer fired a pepper ball that struck her in the face. Her nose and eyes began burning intensely, she said in an interview minutes later, as a golf ball-size welt rose up from her jaw.

A friend poured water into her bloodshot eyes.

The crowd at Lafayette Square dispersed minutes later.

4:08 a.m.
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Crowd near White House briefly swells to hundreds of protesters hours after curfew

More than four hours after D.C.'s curfew went into effect Tuesday night, splintered groups of demonstrators funneled back to Lafayette Square just north of the White House, with several hundred protesters in the area after 11 p.m. By midnight, small groups began to leave.

The newly arrived protesters rejoined what had become a smaller, some-what rowdier crowd that had been intermittently lobbing water bottles and insults over the 8-foot fence separating the demonstration from a phalanx of armed National Guardsmen. For the most part, the smaller White House contingent had lost steam.

But they whooped and hollered as hundreds of demonstrators returned from a circuitous, nearly 2-mile march through the city. Some gave out hugs. Two chanted: “Reinforcements! Reinforcements!”

The arrival brought an instant shot of energy. One man climbed on another’s shoulders and began to shake the fence.

But as they had through out the night, the other protesters admonished the aggression, telling him to be peaceful. They turned their attention to a man on a megaphone, leading chants of “All Power to the people.”

The group was about a third of the size it had been at 7 p.m., when the curfew began.

On the other side of the fence, the U.S. Park Police appeared unmoved. They stood in a line, their shields raised, while a young black woman yelled to them: “You are human just like us.”

But the infusion of new protesters was fleeting. A man on a megaphone announced “Thank you for your service” and told people return tomorrow.

Small groups began to peel off, apparently headed home.

2:53 a.m.
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Richmond mayor tries to quell outrage in Virginia capital

Earlier this evening in Richmond, Mayor Levar Stoney addressed thousands of protesters from the base of the Robert E. Lee statue, trying to quell outrage 24 hours after police tear gassed peaceful protesters in the Virginia capital without provocation.

He promised to hold officers accountable, but said calls to drop charges against arrested protesters had to be addressed to the city’s prosecutor, who does not work for him.

After Stoney left, thousands of demonstrators remained, chanting “we’re not leaving” as curfew drew near. But there was little sign of police, beyond the officers who had escorted the march earlier, and the crowd played up a communal spirit, with people handing out water and masks and parents holding up their children to see speakers as if at a music festival.

The crowd was the largest in four consecutive nights of protests in Richmond.

Read more here.

2:40 a.m.
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Crowd near White House dwindles to hundreds of protesters

People gathered to peacefully protest the death of George Floyd and systemic racism at Lafayette Square on June 2. (The Washington Post)

By 10 p.m., just a few hundred people were left on the streets outside Lafayette Square.

Weary protesters and TV crews sat on the pavement, the ground littered with empty water bottles and boxes of unused Band-Aids.

Some scrolled on their phones, scanning images of the day’s protests in Los Angeles and New York. A group at the steps to St John’s Episcopal Church talked about their lives — about their brushes with law enforcement, girlfriends and recent unemployment.

A line of younger activists clung onto the metal fence, lobbing insults to the line of armed National Guardsmen.

Despite their dwindling numbers, their chants of “George Floyd” were audible throughout the block.

Behind the metal fence, the guardsmen wearing camouflage, helmet and vests also appeared to tire as the night wore on. Some bent over to stretch their legs; others leaned their heads on their shields, which had gone unused so far.

As the night cooled further, groups peeled away from H Street NW, the northern perimeter of the park adjacent to the White House. Some headed home, spooked by rumors of police advancing on demonstrators. Others headed west on H Street, following the nighttime route of prior protests.

2:15 a.m.
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Medics relieved as peaceful protests unfold

Two volunteer medics had plastered red crosses on a flagpole on the corner of Vermont and H streets near Lafayette Square, expecting a stream of protesters to need care. But in a sign of how different Tuesday’s demonstration had been compared with the night before, the medics said so far they had handed out only a single Band-Aid all day.

And that was for a protester who had fallen off a bike.

In previous days, they said, medics had dealt with numerous injuries, from protesters who fell fleeing from police to others injured by a car fire.

“It feels good to not be needed,” said one of the medics, who declined to give her name.

Another medic, Christopher Fewell, walked through the crowd of roughly 1,000 demonstrators gathered nearby, opposite dozens of police officers lined shoulder to shoulder at the perimeter of Lafayette Square just north of the White House.

Fewell passed out water bottles and urged people to stay put. “Stand your ground — we must be united,” he said. “This is the last thing I’ve got to say: I love you, I love you, I love you.”

His mask said “medic” and his first aid supplies were clipped to his belt.

He said he has been out every night since Friday and plans to stay out every night protesters gather. “Our people have been oppressed,” said Fewell, who is black.

1:29 a.m.
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Face-down with hands behind them, hundreds hold moment of silence for George Floyd at U.S. Capitol

As protesters began collecting near the U.S. Capitol at dusk, some protesters climbed the Peace Monument and stretched their fists toward a salmon sky. On a megaphone, a woman called for the crowd to get on the ground.

“Lie down like George Floyd,” the woman said of the man killed last week in Minneapolis after an officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. “I know you’ve seen the video!”

Hundreds laid on the asphalt, the sidewalk or the grass, their faces toward the ground, and hands pinned by imaginary cuffs behind their backs.

When a group failed to go down, the crowd chanted, “Take a knee! Take a knee!”

At least 200 people fell silent, and for about 20 seconds the only sounds were the thud of helicopters and chirps of birds.

“Now everybody give a round of applause for themselves,” an organizer yelled, breaking the moment.

Francois Yves, 24, a policy consultant, was moved by the display.

“It was very powerful,” said Yves, who is black. “The anti-black racism we see puts the community down. It’s getting released in moments like these.”

1:04 a.m.
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Long waits remain at D.C. voting centers

The results of D.C. primary races were not in Tuesday night after polls closed in an election complicated by the coronavirus pandemic and city officials’ struggle to facilitate mail-in voting.

The city closed most polling places to limit the spread of infection and urged residents to vote by mail instead, but officials acknowledged complaints from voters who did not receive absentee ballots after requesting them. Lines at voting centers stretched blocks on Tuesday, with waits longer than an hour and people still in line when polls closed at 8 p.m.

The city opened only 20 voting centers Tuesday, rather than the usual polling place in each of 143 precincts.

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) exempted those voting from a 7 p.m. curfew she imposed in response to unrest related to demonstrations, despite criticism from some lawmakers and advocates that confusion surrounding the curfew could depress turnout.

Kevin Donahue, the deputy mayor overseeing public safety, tweeted that the city was reminding police commanders that voting is exempt from the curfew, after people tweeted about an officer warning people waiting in line at the Hardy Middle School polling place after the curfew began to go home.

Read more here.

12:58 a.m.
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Huge crowds at Lafayette Square split and hundreds march toward Capitol

Shortly before 8 p.m., the crowd of thousands protesting in Lafayette Square cleaved in two, with about a thousand remaining near the White House and hundreds of others marching toward the U.S. Capitol. Some peeled off and headed home.

Some demonstrators began to violently shake the fence separating protesters from police, but others in the crowd admonished them, chanting, “Peaceful protest! Peaceful protest!”

Protesters have taken to chanting “Peaceful protest” every time individuals begin to take a step toward escalation. A group of young men shaking the park fence, wobbling it back and forth, were admonished by onlookers.

From the steps of the St. John’s Episcopal Church, a protester with a megaphone implored demonstrators to stay as hundreds split off on a march to the Capitol.

“Y’all need to post up so they cannot advance their position,” he said. “Don’t leave! Keep it thick right here in front of this church!”

Other protesters in the crowd called out warnings of what could happen if the group separates: “We’re easier to arrest in small groups,” one called. “Stay together!” shouted another.

The hundreds who marched toward the Capitol headed along H Street NW, chanting “Who do you protect?” at a couple of dozen D.C. police officers on bicycles following beside them.

Among the chanters was Shireka McCarthy, 29, a member of the City Council in the Maryland suburb of Seat Pleasant. Asked why the crowd was headed that way, she said, “That’s just how the protest works. Everybody screams and then we do it.“

She greeted her cousin, one of the D.C. officers on bikes. “I see you!” She yelled at him, smiling. He smiled back.

“We respect each other’s positions,” she said. “He has to do his job and I have to do my job."

As the packed crowd thinned in front of St. John’s Espiscopal Church — site of a fire on Sunday and a controversial photo op by President Trump on Monday — there was more room for protesters to mill about, taking in the fact that it was more than an hour past curfew and no law enforcement had come to clear them away.

They photographed the chalk messages revealed on the pavement as protesters marched away from them.

“We can stay here all night as long as we are being peaceful,” a protester yelled into a megaphone.

Nearby, cases of water bottles lay stacked on the curbs. Gallons of milk — an antidote to pepper bombs — remained unopened, warm to the touch.

Before darkness fell, hundreds starting marching from the Capitol back toward the White House along Pennsylvania Avenue.

12:05 a.m.
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Hundreds of National Guard troops flow into D.C. from around the country

To supplement the presence of local and federal police and the D.C. National Guard, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper asked state National Guards to send in some of their troops as well, and hundreds were on their way or already here by Tuesday.

Defense officials said that National Guard members from Utah and New Jersey were on the ground Monday, and that additional troops from Indiana, South Carolina, and Tennessee were expected to arrive on Tuesday.

Other states were also in the process of sending troops. Maryland sent 116 National Guardsmen to the District on Tuesday, according to a spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan (R). And Ohio — led by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine — sent 100 members of its National Guard to Washington on Tuesday, according to a report on

“The mission assigned to the Maryland National Guard is the safety and security of monuments in and around the National Mall,” Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci said Tuesday in an email. He said Esper called the Maryland governor on Monday to make the request.

But some states with Democratic governors declined to send National Guard troops, including Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D). He said he refused for several reasons, among them the state’s ongoing coronavirus response and “I am not going to send our men and women in the uniform of a very proud National Guard to Washington for a photo op.”

Read more here.

12:03 a.m.
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Mom recounts son’s experience after arrest Monday night

When her 21-year-old son told Carla Wheeler that it was important for him to be at the protest near the White House on Monday, she and her husband asked him to please be careful.

At 7 p.m., he texted that he was going to be arrested.

For the next nine hours, they frantically tried to find him, calling police stations and every number they could think of, Wheeler said. At 5:30 a.m., he finally called them.

Wheeler said her son did not want to talk with a Washington Post reporter about what happened, but she said he is traumatized. She recounted what he told his parents: About 6:30 p.m., a phalanx of police moved in on what had been a peaceful protest, firing rubber bullets and gas and surrounding the protesters, pushing them into a smaller and smaller space. “There was no way to get out,” she recalled. “Then he was stuck.”

Wheeler said he told them he saw a teenager beaten by police, groups that included children being sprayed with something, and an old man shot in the eye with a rubber bullet.

He told her he felt lucky with just the stinging in his eyes from the gas. “He’s physically unscathed,” she said. “Mentally, not so much.”

Everyone who had been arrested was crammed into vans, taken to a police facility and told to wait on curbs until they could be taken in for processing.

Inside, tiny holding cells were packed with people. If anyone was sick, Wheeler said, they were all exposed. Her son’s mask had slipped when the cordons of police moved in and with tight handcuffs on, there was no way to adjust it. He was charged with violating the curfew, Wheeler said.

It was his first venture into the protests over George Floyd’s death. And his last, Wheeler said. She also has forbidden her 16-year-old from going.

It’s an important moment in history, and her children raised in Washington have been to many marches, but this one was different.

Her 21-year-old son told his parents the experience confirmed all his worst feelings about the United States. He chose to go to college in Europe after President Trump was elected, Wheeler said.

On Tuesday, he told his parents he was ready to go back to Spain.

11:44 p.m.
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Sen. Elizabeth Warren joins protesters outside White House

Cheers erupted as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) arrived at the demonstration near the White House on Tuesday evening.

Warren spoke with protesters outside Lafayette Square a half-hour before the District’s 7 p.m. curfew set in. She was joined by her husband, Bruce Mann, and their golden retriever, Bailey.

After taking selfies with some people, Warren told The Washington Post that she decided 30 minutes earlier to come to see the protests herself because she “feels a responsibility to witness this.”

“I’m here today because nothing changes if we don’t speak out. It is not enough to stay comfortable in our homes and offices and say we stand in solidarity,” she said. “It’s important that we get out on the front lines and call out racism everywhere.”

Warren, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, said “it’s beyond obscene” that Trump cleared the same park before curfew Monday for “a photo op” outside St. John’s Episcopal Church.

“Donald Trump has failed in his job to lead this nation since the day he was sworn in, but he took it to new lows yesterday,” Warren said.

She left before the curfew set in.

11:33 p.m.
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Thousands pack streets near Lafayette Square, surpassing Monday crowds

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in force in Washington on Tuesday evening, showing up in greater numbers than the day before.

An hour before a 7 p.m. curfew, the crowd swelled massively along the northern edge of Lafayette Square, jamming H Street NW and surrounding streets for a few blocks — roughly two or three times the number of protesters the night before. Law enforcement stood three deep behind a fence, face shields down.

With the crowds came more aid stations, with more people handing out water and supplies to demonstrators.

Onlookers wheeled bicycles through the crowd, which was now spilling onto 16th Street NW and onto the steps of St. John’s Episcopal Church, where a fire was set in the basement Sunday night. The chants were growing louder and more unified, but beneath them, demonstrators worried to each other about another show of force to clear them from H Street.

As curfew inched closer, groups of protesters began huddling in groups of two and three to discuss contingency plans if officers began firing, as happened around this time on Monday. They reminded themselves of where they parked and checked bags for extra masks. They discussed what to do for gas burns and lamented their lack of real gas masks. One woman said she felt lucky she’d packed a sleeping bag, in case things went extremely poorly.

Swim goggles and lab goggles hung loose on the necks of other protesters who said they wanted to be prepared in case pepper bullets and other irritants started to fly around curfew.

Many had attended previous days’ protests, but several said they were motivated to come out after watching the attack on peaceful protesters Monday. They just wanted to be prepared.

Dagoberto Acevedo, 24, of Fairfax, said he was here on Monday night when the police began to push protesters away from the park. During a skirmish, as officers rushed forward and protesters ran, Acevedo tripped. A federal police officer in riot gear raised his baton, he said. And a boy he didn’t know — just 14, he later learned — threw his body between them.

“After that,” Acevedo said, “I’ll be out here every day trying to help protect people.”

As the curfew neared, the protest remained peaceful. No bottles tossed or rocks thrown.

At 6:45 p.m., dozens of protesters began heading west on H Street, away from the crowd. But thousands more remained in place. Autumn Sacred, a 29-year-old black woman with a “dump Trump” pin on her backpack, climbed onto the window sill of Off the Record, the restaurant at the Hay-Adams. At 6:55 p.m., her friends yelled at her, “get down now! It’s starting!” The group put on safety goggles.

“I’ve been playing video games since I was 8 years old,” she told them, hopping down. “I am ready for this.”

At 6:59 p.m., the demonstrators started chanting, cheering and clapping — but not moving. There was no shoving, no jostling.

Seven minutes past curfew, a woman with a megaphone yelled instructions to the crowd.

“If they start gassing you, do not run!,” she said. “I promise your eyes will stop burning eventually.”

The longer police waited to advance, the more demonstrators seemed to relax, their mood turning celebratory.

A small black boy in a Batman hat danced danced to the chant of “This Is what democracy looks like.”

Beside him, a blonde woman was pleading with her husband. “Let’s stay till 7:30,” she asked. “Ten more minutes.” He shook his head and took her arm, leading her away.

11:12 p.m.
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Arrested Monday, protester returns Tuesday

One hour before curfew, hundreds of demonstrators crowded onto H Street. NW. Unlike the nights before, it wasn’t just rows of U.S. Park Police and waist-high barricades separating the crowds from the White House. An 8-foot metal fence lined the brick sidewalk, weighed down by heavy metal plates.

Protesters pointed their phones through the holes to take photos of the rows of Park Police positioned behind the fence. The physical space between the demonstrators and law enforcement seemed to lessen the tension on the front lines. Rather than be able to look officers in the eyes while they chanted “take a knee” and “I can’t breathe,” they were yelling at them from afar.

For now, no one was throwing bottles or rocks. Volunteers passed out hand sanitizer and water bottles, while elderly couples weaved through the crowd, trying to find spots they were comfortable standing.

They cheered as a black protester in his late 20s, who gave only Patrick as his name, stood before them, screaming his story of being arrested the night before. He said he had been let out of the D.C. jail at 4 p.m. Tuesday. After stopping at Burger King, he came straight back downtown.

“I will keep coming back,” he hollered. “I will keep coming back.”

He kept yelling until he was out of breath, then his friend touched his back and let him deeper into the crowd.