On Tuesday, his first night at the demonstrations in front of the White House, Reginald Guy decided there was something he could do to improve the world that had overtaken downtown Washington.
When he returned to the protests Thursday, he brought a grill, a fold-up serving table and 100 hot dogs. Someone saw him setting up and went and bought hamburger meat to donate to the menu. Until the rain came down, he served everyone. All free, unless someone felt like contributing a few bucks.
“This is not a granola-bar moment,” Guy said just before dousing his coals with lighter fluid and putting a dozen burgers on the fire. “We’re not hiking. This is not a game.”
Guy, who works at a CVS and lives in Southeast Washington, said he has found the protests to be disorganized and lacking in focus, with “people walking back and forth.”
The food he saw protesters eating — ham sandwiches and Cliff bars — are not the stuff of a revolution, he said.
He said he hopes his food will provide more focus and perhaps the foundation for his own movement.
“Tomorrow night, I will have vegan,” he told people who stopped by his grill, which was outside St. John’s Episcopal Church across from the White House. “I’m going to bring sides.”
“Are you starting an organization?” a woman asked.
“I am the organization,” Guy answered.
He said he would feed anyone — demonstrators, police officers, soldiers and even President Trump “as long as he walks over here and talks to us.”
Daniel Molina, 24, a laid-off research assistant in a Vineyard Vines T-shirt, handed Guy a $5 donation.
“God bless you,” someone else said. A woman wearing a “Make America Pay Reparations” T-shirt gave him a baggie filled with first-aid supplies, including milk of magnesia “in case you’re tear gassed.”
A German newspaper reporter took his photo. Then a Voice of America reporter took one. Then Guy posed for a picture with the two reporters.
“These burgers are hot — if you want one, come get them,” he shouted, as the small crowd in front of his grill inched forward.