A sixth day of protests in Washington began Wednesday with a demonstration at the Capitol, followed by others north of Lafayette Square and outside Trump International Hotel. The crowds converged in the evening near the White House, where police lines kept groups divided into smaller areas.

The protests come after thousands of demonstrators descended on Washington on Tuesday, a day of mostly peaceful protests in the city.

Here are some significant developments:

• Roving, mostly peaceful crowds moved between the White House and the U.S. Capitol building throughout the evening. While tense moments flashed between demonstrators and law enforcement officers in riot gear, no major altercations erupted as the 11 p.m. curfew took effect.

• The U.S. Park Police put two officers on administrative duties as the agency reviews their interaction with Australian reporters who were struck by police in riot gear Monday.

• After two nights with a curfew that began at 7 p.m., D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) announced Wednesday that a curfew will go into effect at 11 p.m. and extend through 6 a.m. Thursday.

• In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is set to announce Thursday that he will remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee — a focal point of demonstrations — from its site on Monument Avenue in Richmond and put it into storage, according to an official in his administration.

June 4, 2020 at 1:00 AM EDT
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Crowds shrink as protests stretch into Thursday

By Kyle Swenson, Fredrick Kunkle and Steve Thompson

By 1 a.m. Thursday, the large, peaceful crowds of thousands that had roamed from the U.S. Capitol to the White House protesting systemic racism had largely dispersed.

About 200 marchers continued through the city, playing music as they went, as the sixth night of protests after the death of George Flynn stretched into another day.

Near the White House, a sparse crowd remained — with nearly as many journalists as protesters. A shirtless man held a baseball bat and a campaign sign for D.C. Council member Trayon White. A woman yelled at U.S. Army officers to “Quit your job."

Most of those who remained stood conversing in small groups or sitting on the curb or pavement. One woman shouted, “No justice, no peace” to start a call and response.

But only one woman answered.

June 3, 2020 at 11:55 PM EDT
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Messages projected on hotel, armored vehicles: ‘Stop killer cops,’ ‘We can’t breathe’:

By Perry Stein, Jessica Contrera, Kyle Swenson and Rebecca Tan

Around 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, the protest messages started appearing.

Sometimes, the projections were large enough to take up three floors of the Hay-Adams Hotel building. Sometimes, they fit neatly onto the side of an armored vehicle.

The messages rotated as protesters moved around, illuminating the city with the phrases they’d chanted in the streets for days.

“Stop Killer Cops,” read one. “We can’t breathe,” stated another.

On the side of an armored vehicle stationed behind the protective line of the National Guard, another read: “Demilitarize the police.”

As more protesters left the demonstration near the White House, the source of the spotlight became clear: a six-foot tall black projector in the middle of 16th Street and its handler, Philip Ateto, 42.

Ateto said he was part of Backbone Campaign, a nonprofit that engages in “spectacle activism,” in part by projecting messages onto large buildings. In 2018, they conducted a display on the Supreme Court during a hearing on sexual misconduct allegations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Ateto said he had initially wanted to project on the White House but had to settle for the buildings along 16th Street NW since law enforcement had pushed back the boundary. The organization usually projects messages through steel stencils but while standing in front of the National Guard, Ateto found a different use for his machine.

“Spotlighting snipers,” he said, chuckling. “Yeah, I’ll have to add that one to our repertoire.”

June 3, 2020 at 11:37 PM EDT
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As curfew descends, songs, solidarity and a little fear of antifa

By Clarence Williams, Rachel Chason, John Woodrow Cox, Jessica Contrera, Rebecca Tan and Erin Cox

The roving, marathon demonstration that crisscrossed the city for hours arrived at the U.S. Capitol just before the 11 p.m. curfew. More than 1,000 energetic demonstrators — diverse and mostly young — gathered around the 44-foot-high white marble Peace Monument and cheered one speaker after another.

“We’re gonna march through these damn streets,” the speaker said, signaling a long night to come. “We’re going to be peaceful. We ain’t going to bring no drama.”

Dozens of protesters climbed atop the monument.

“Anybody got a megaphone?” Romulo Richardson asked.

“We have the people’s microphone,” a woman in the middle of the crowd replied, saying she would repeat his message so those in the back could hear.

“I need everybody to be as quiet as possible, because this is important,” said Richardson, 37, who is black. “They charged the four officers in George Floyd’s murder tonight.”

Protesters in the peaceful crowd, which had knelt several times en route to the Capitol from near the White House, erupted into cheers.

“Y’all made that happen,” said Richardson, of Northwest Washington. “Y’all made them believe us. There is strength in numbers … you’ve got to move as a unit.”

He then urged everyone to turn to their neighbors and exchange social media information, saying they couldn’t make change unless they united.

As the crowd thinned at Lafayette Square near the White House, some officers on the front line appeared to relax. An officer in a helmet and a shoulder patch that read “Special Forces” popped his head out from the second row and struck up a conversation with Joshua Rosen, 27, who was wearing a Jewish Yamuka and Tallit. Eventually, he asked: “Do you think we could see a prayer?”

Rosen nodded, then tried to remember the songs he had learned in his synagogue in Greenbelt, Md. He started with “Shalom Rav,” then sang “Lo Yisa Goy.” He paused when he couldn’t remember the exact line and another member of the crowd chimed in.

The Guardsman watched, his smile widening. “Awesome, awesome,” he said. “Thank you so much for that.”

Not far away, rumors and fear spread that group antifa had arrived. Arianna Evans, 22, spent much of her evening policing the front of the line, asking protesters who wanted to stand chest to chest with the National Guard to step back.

She had thought Wednesday night was the best yet — “We didn’t get shot, so that’s cool,” — but at 10:25 p.m., she heard from multiple people in the crowd that antifa had arrived at the protest.

Now she used her megaphone for a different message: “I’m about to go home because I like my life. antifa is here and they are not … playing.”

All around, heads turned toward her, even in the line of National Guard.

“If you want to be safe,” Evans told a protester, “go home right now.”

There was no way to determine whether antifa was arriving, but no sign that the group was in the area of protests.

June 3, 2020 at 10:53 PM EDT
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Protests shift from peaceful to intense and back again as crowds rove downtown

By Kyle Swenson, Perry Stein, Jessica Contrera and Clarence Williams

As time inched closer to the District’s 11 p.m. curfew Wednesday, dozens of protesters were breaking away from the main demonstration near the White House. A lone voice bellowed at the police barricade at McPherson Square.

“The military does not need to be here!” a young black woman shouted to the line of police officers just feet away. She gestured down Vermont Avenue NW, where all afternoon officers in military-style gear had gathered and waited.

“The mayor you answer to said they don’t need to be here,” screamed the woman, who declined to give her name or age. “Why [is] the military here to police us? Because I’m loud and black the military needs to be here?”

Her anger and energy attracted more protesters — 50 at least — to gather at her side.

“You all want to change the world? You could have been a teacher!” she yelled.

She then moved to the center of the barricade.

“Put your hand up if any of you all think it was wrong to kill George,” she said.

When the two dozen law enforcement officers failed to acknowledge her plea, the crowd of protesters began shouting.

Then a young man walked up, pushing the barricade. Police — helmets on, shields up — advanced forward.

The crowd, now 60 strong, lurched toward the officers, their hands raised.

“Hands up, don’t shoot!” they chanted.

For a tense moment, both groups seemed not to know what would come next. Then the officers stepped back, sparking cheers from the crowd. The chant changed. “Peaceful protest,” they shouted. “Peaceful protest.”

A block to the west, someone had lit an American flag on fire.

A block south, a line of officers stood face-to-face with protesters. One blared a Martin Luther King Jr. speech in the officers’ faces. Another screamed, “We want to talk to your master,” demanding to speak with President Trump.

The officers stared straight ahead, their shields on the ground, their eyes often looking above the protesters.

A block further west, on 16th Street NW near the White House, a 20-year-old was pacing the line separating protesters from the rows of National Guard members.

“Safe distance, safe distance,” he called as he held his arms out in front of his chest, moving protesters back at least two feet.

Josiah Humphries said he isn’t one of the Black Lives Matter organizers. “I just want to make sure everybody gets out of this alive,” he said.

June 3, 2020 at 10:09 PM EDT
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A protester demanded to know why a black officer wore a badge. He replied passionately and powerfully.

By John Woodrow Cox

“What are you doing as a police officer?” one woman asked a black, bespectacled U.S. Capitol Police officer Wednesday evening, pointing her finger at him as he stood behind a short metal fence separating a long line of armed officers from more than 300 demonstrators.

“What are you doing as a black man with that badge on? What are you doing to change things?” she asked.

“I realize that [in] police departments across the nation, across the world, there are racists in those police departments,” said the man, whose uniform read R. Watts. He declined to provide his first name.

True change, he insisted, could come only from the inside.

“This country did not want us, but yet there were people who fought anyway. Now we got spaces here,” he continued, pointing over his shoulder at the Capitol building.

“A man just four years ago was in a White House that wasn’t designed for him. You have to start somewhere.”

“You have officers across the country who have never even dealt with black people … so if I quit and then all the police department is white, how does that help?” he asked. “It doesn’t.”

Watts explained that he was the father of four kids — ages 2, 10, 14 and 16 — and that’s why the job he chose, and continued to do, mattered.

“I was black before this,” he said, tugging on his uniform. “When I’m off duty, I’m black. But not only am I black, I’m black with this on my hip with a T-shirt over it.”

He pointed at his gun.

“When I get pulled over and I’m a cop, I have to let that other cop know, ‘Look guys, I have a weapon on me and my wallet’s back here. Is it okay if I reach for it?’ ” he told the protesters. “I say that because I know I’m black. I know I’m black before I’m anything else. And I’m going to be black after this job.”

He told them he wouldn’t say all police were good or that even most were. Some — even many, he understood — were not good people. Until you deal with one, you can’t know.

“But I’m not that, and I have many brothers standing next to me who are not that,” he said. “We understand that nobody should lose their life for a petty crime … You write a bad check, and you’re dead? From a bad check, really?”

Another protester interjected, granting that Watts might be a good officer — but what about all the others who aren’t? What had he done about them?

“If I see it’s wrong, I will speak up, and I do,” he said.

“My heart walks with you guys because I’ve been this,” he said, pinching his skin, “since the day I came out of my mama … I’m proud of each and every one of you guys.”

“Keep marching,” he continued. “Do it for me. Do it because right now I’m here and I can’t do what you’re doing. But understand, my heart is over here with you guys.”

June 3, 2020 at 10:01 PM EDT
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Biggest crowd of six-day protest creates peaceful atmosphere at White House

By Jessica Contrera, Antonio Olivo, Hannah Natanson and Rachel Weiner

As thousands crowded onto streets near the White House, gone was the fear of repeated police aggression that had plagued Tuesday’s demonstrations. On Wednesday, the biggest crowd yet appeared.

The mood was jubilant, with protesters singing and dancing as someone with a loudspeaker played Sam Cook’s “A Change is Gonna Come” and Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.”

One man was dressed in a Batman costume. “I’m here as Batman because you would not listen to me as a black man,” he said. “Batman, people listen to.”

Arianna Evans strode to the heart of the crowd, gripped a microphone and quieted the demonstrators. She swung her long violet braids over her shoulder and warned those eager to loot and destroy to leave.

“We will flush you out,” said Evans, a 24-year-old college student from Maryland. She handed the mic to Kenny Sway, a D.C. musician who asked the crowd to sit cross-legged with their cellphones in the air.

With the sun setting over his shoulder, he launched into a rendition of “Lean On Me,” with thousands of voices joining the chorus.

Protesters had read that the previous night had brought a few arrests. And with the city’s curfew extended to 11 p.m., many felt they could show their support after the sun went down without feeling their safety was at risk.

So many volunteers wove through the crowd passing out water bottles, snacks and hand sanitizer that the most common response they heard was “No, thank you.”

A 33-year-old OBGYN nurse joined the protests for the second night in a row after work, still wearing her blue scrubs.

“Tonight it just seems more organized. The momentum and energy is just much more tangible,” she said. “Everybody is seeing how the rest of the world is responding to this, and it’s encouraging us.”

June 3, 2020 at 9:09 PM EDT
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At U.S. Capitol, waves of crowds arrive and disperse

By John Woodrow Cox, Perry Stein and Erin Cox

Around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, the latest wave of peaceful demonstrators arrived at the Capitol building, a crowd of roughly 300 taking up vigil. Not long before, a slightly larger group had recently dispersed.

All evening, as protesters crisscrossed the city, the Capitol became a destination to spill out the raw emotion and outrage that has consumed people across the country since George Floyd died in Minneapolis last week after a police officer put a knee to his neck.

Darian Cooper, 27, approached a black police officer guarding the Capitol and, in a rare occurrence during this week of contentious protests, the officer responded.

“I live in Southeast D.C., I have a two-year-old,” the Capitol Police officer said. “I’m in the same position as you.”

Cooper, a Maryland resident, was pleased, feeling like he had an interaction with an officer where they both treated each other as humans.

“When he takes off his uniform, he’s the same as me,” Cooper said, touching his own arm.

An hour earlier, a crowd of more than 400 demonstrators arrived at the Capitol to the chant of “hey-hey-ho-ho, these racist cops have to go.”

And as they shouted, dozens of Capitol Police officers descended the steps and approached. In total, more than 100 lined up, all of them wearing masks, all of them armed.

Seun Babalola, one of the group’s organizers, stepped up onto the stone wall that separated the police from the people who followed him.

“I’m unarmed, by the way,” he said into a megaphone, looking over his shoulder at the officers, before returning his attention to the demonstrators.

“Can I see the hands?” he said, and everyone raised their hands.

Babalola turned again to the police.

“I don’t want one white cop to take a knee to put a picture on Twitter,” he shouted. “I don’t give a damn if a white cop takes a knee.”

He asked the demonstrators to take a seat and they did, many kneeling in the lush green grass that surrounds the Capitol. Babalola then began to read name after name of black men and women who had been killed by police. The crowd listened in silence.

Suddenly, a police radio crackled, interrupting the reading.

“Turn that radio down,” Babalola responded, indignant. “Are y’all serious right now?”

“You would have done it for the national anthem!” a woman yelled at the officer with the radio, who ignored their plea.” That’s exactly why we’re here,” another woman yelled.

June 3, 2020 at 8:41 PM EDT
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New officers file behind front line as crowd holds moment of silence

By Rebecca Tan

Squeezed by barricades and law enforcement, protesters congregated at 16th Street NW on Wednesday, forming rows that spanned at least two blocks.

A little after 7:30 p.m., as the searing heat finally eased away, an African American woman in red dreadlocks called for a moment of silence over a loudspeaker. Row by row, the crowd fell to their knees. The yelling and chanting stopped; signs were lowered. A quiet fell over the thousand-plus protesters.

The woman in red dreads started speaking, then paused, choking up. The crowd waited.

“Take your time, sister!”

“I have a brother . . . and I want to see him to go to college, to come home without being shot,” she said. “I want that for him.”

“Half of you here understand what it’s like to be African American in America,” she said, her voice rising. “It is a heavy, heavy burden.”

As she spoke, about 50 officers in Army uniforms filed into the space behind the front line.

June 3, 2020 at 8:27 PM EDT
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Organizers’ goal: Remain peaceful, keep marching

By Perry Stein

Seun Babalola, a 22-year-old organizer in the Washington region, noticed that the protests in recent days were disorganized and meandering. So he and two other activists in the city — including a Parkland survivor and a young woman involved in local D.C. politics — decided to form “Concerned Citizens.”

The group decided to organize a rally on Wednesday, taking hundreds of protesters on marches across the city. Along the way, black protesters are giving long speeches about racism, their personal challenges, and why they are protesting.

“We said we are going to make a lot of these marches something people can believe in,” he said. He said the goal is to remain peaceful and keep marching.

“If it takes 40 minutes to march to the Capitol, that’s OK,” he said.

June 3, 2020 at 8:10 PM EDT
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‘I can’t breathe’: Protesters chant as thousands converge near White House

By Kyle Swenson, Rebecca Tan, Hannah Natanson and Erin Cox

Several crowds — collectively numbering in the thousands — converged near the White House around 8 p.m., splintered by police lines into at least three locations north of Lafayette Square, the center of protests in the District for six days.

One group of marchers had moved from the White House along Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol and back again, chanting in the blistering evening heat. Others crisscrossed downtown, traversing McPherson Square as their circuitous route led them back toward President Trump’s residence.

Police on Wednesday shifted their tactics to divide the groups into smaller areas. Gone was the 8-foot tall chain-link fence that created distance between the throngs of people and law enforcement from an array of federal agencies. Instead, protesters could come face to face with officers.

A large group of more than 1,000 knelt in unison at 16th and I streets NW. The crowds ebbed and flowed, leaving and returning.

As one group of marchers wound back toward the White House, thousands collected at 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, steps from the Trump International Hotel, which was heavily guarded and had a few broken windows on the first floor.

“Sit, knee, whatever you want,” an organizer said through a megaphone. “I just need you too get down like George Floyd. We’re lying down for eight minutes to honor his memory."

For a minute, the thousands were silent as radio on nearby police officers squawked and a jogger caught in the moment awkwardly tried to step through the prone bodies.

“They need to hear us!” someone shouted, breaking the silence.

A chant of “I can’t breathe” built through the crowd until everyone was chanting. The voices continued for eight minutes.

June 3, 2020 at 8:08 PM EDT
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Protesters nervous, frustrated and closer to police than in previous days

By Rachel Chason and Antonio Olivo

Throngs of protesters confronted police at unusually close quarters near the White House and at the Capitol on Wednesday, as no physical barriers separated the crowds from law enforcement.

The mostly peaceful protests on Tuesday unfolded under different conditions. Near the White House, the U.S. Park Police had erected an eight-foot fence at the edge of Lafayette Square, putting a barrier and at least 100 feet between the protesters and police.

On Wednesday, it was gone. There was nothing to separate them.

“Are the guns coming out?” Telia Conway’s friend asked her just before 6 p.m. as the group eyed the officers in camouflage feet from them. “Someone said they saw tear gas.”

“I’m nervous,” said Conway, 22, swim goggles around her neck.

“I don’t think they are being logical,” said Conway, who is black. “What is tear gas going to do except make us angrier?”

Nearby, 21-year-old Angelique Medley was in the front row of protesters, shouting “This has to stop! Medley said none of the officers — who were from several different federal agencies — replied.

“I came for my dad, a black man who lived through the civil rights era,” she said. “He taught me to challenge authority, except his.”

An hour before curfew, a friend wearing a gas mask arrived to tell her he saw buses arriving and was worried about arrests.

“Let’s go,” she agreed.

June 3, 2020 at 7:32 PM EDT
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At the Capitol, a 10-year-old confronts police

By Jessica Contrera

A lone police officer stood at the top of the Capitol steps Wednesday evening, taking in the scene below: hundreds of people spread out across the lawn and around the reflecting pool, settling in for another night of chanting, hydrating and chanting some more. The crowd, which grew and shrank multiple times throughout the day, faced a line of Capitol Police officers who formed a perimeter on the base of the stairs.

Unlike at the White House, where rows of barricades and law enforcement blocked demonstrators from coming anywhere near the symbol they wanted to protest, the front lines here could stand 30 yards from the marble steps, and eye-to-eye with officers.

Just before 6:30 p.m., cries of “Let her through!” rippled through the crowd. The masses parted, and a 10-year-old black girl wearing pink sequined cat ears stepped forward.

At the top of her voice, Jalena Lisenby told the officers about her anger, her fear, her questions.

“Too many of my brothers and sisters have died,” she yelled. “I’m only 10 and I am already sick of it.”

She pointed to her 12-year-old brother Jamari, who had “Black lives matter” written across his N95 face mask.

“Every day I wonder if my brother or my dad or my mom is going to die,” she cried.

Cheers of “Tell 'em baby girl!” And “You got the answers!” urged her on.

When she finished, adults came to shake her hand. She tucked her handmade sign, on which she had written “I can’t breathe” over and over along the edges, beneath her arm and told them, “Thank you.”

Her father pulled her in for a hug. Her mother smiled behind her mask.

“Mom,” Jalena said when the crowd around her dispersed. “Can I go get a Gatorade?

June 3, 2020 at 6:59 PM EDT
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Two Park Police officers taken out of field after being accused of assaulting Australian reporters

By Erin Cox and Meagan Flynn

The U.S. Park Police put two officers on administrative duties as the agency reviews their interaction with Australian reporters, acting chief Gregory T. Monahan said in a statement Wednesday evening.

The two reporters from 7News Australia were live on air Monday when they were struck by police in riot gear at a protest near the White House, prompting Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to request an investigation.

Monahan said the officers’ reassignment “is consistent with our established practices and procedures” and will be in place “while an investigation takes place regarding the incident with the Australian Press.”

The altercation happened about 6:30 p.m. Monday as police began forcefully removing protesters from Lafayette Square with pepper bullets, rubber bullets and batons to clear the way for President Trump’s photo op at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

As a line of police pushed forward, an officer struck 7News Australia cameraman Tim Myers with a shield and appeared to hit him in the face. Reporter Amelia Brace was struck with a baton while fleeing, 7News reported.

“You heard us yelling there that we were media, but they don’t care. They’re being indiscriminate at the moment,” Brace said on air moments later. After running to safety, she added: “And you saw how they dealt with my cameraman there, quite violent, and they do not care who they’re targeting.”

Anthony Albanese, a member of Parliament and leader of the Australian Labor Party, said the reporters “effectively have been assaulted — that’s what it is — for doing their job,” ABC reported. “The violence that has occurred towards members of the media, Australian media and domestic media as well, with tear gas being fired, with media being assaulted, is completely unacceptable,” he said.

June 3, 2020 at 6:39 PM EDT
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Protesters find D.C. landmarks surrounded by federal forces

By Hannah Natanson

On the sixth day of protests Wednesday, Asia Horne and Haley Mahon walked into an unrecognizable version of downtown Washington.

Police and military personnel seemed to walk on every sidewalk, block every road, bar every intersection.

On Monday, the chanting American University students had been able to press up against the edges of Lafayette Square, with the familiar columns of the White House in sight. Two days later, they could hardly see it, the view blocked by rows of military vehicles and lines of law enforcement officers with riot shields.

Later, Horne and Mahon tried to march with hundreds of others to the Lincoln Memorial — only to realize that it, too, had been converted into something akin to a military fortress, guarded by immense ranks of law enforcement.

“I’ve only lived here three years, but I did think the nation’s capital was supposed to be more open,” said Mahon, 21. “These national landmarks are supposed to be open to the people.”

“I think he just wants to hide in his bunker,” Horne, 20, said of President Trump. “I think he’s scared.”

Horne and Mahon know the increased federal presence has left some of their fellow protesters feeling scared, too, especially those who are black like them. It is not easy to walk past officers as a black person in America, Mahon said.

But if anything, they’re feeling more determined.

“It’s limiting in one way,” Mahon said of their ever-shrinking ability to traverse Washington. “But it also makes me want to be here a little bit more.”