At the feet of Joan of Arc in the center of Meridian Hill Park, another young woman stood, calling for a revolution.
“When we say no justice,” she said.
On cue, the crowd bellowed: “No peace!”
“What we mean is defund the police,” said Hilda Jordan, 22. “I know that sounds scary, but please understand, we spend more of our dollars on law enforcement than schools, than health care, than infrastructure. What are we doing?”
Jordan had not come to the rally intending to speak, but took hold of the megaphone when community leaders turned a rally for peace into an open mic.
“We want to hear from you,” said Dana Nearing, the registrar at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. “Please come up if you have something to say.”
Hundreds gathered in the park, holding signs scrawled on cardboard and poster board.
Children ran and played in the grass.
Rainbow flags dotted the crowd. Several wore shirts in honor of Pride month.
“I want to encourage my community, the LGBTQ community, in what is our Pride month, to raise your voices in support of my other community, the black community,” Nearing said. “Let’s show everyone what we mean when we say love is love is love.”
Like the gathering by the White House, this rally began with music.
Jasmine Graham, 24, led the crowd in Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” as onlookers danced and clapped. When the chorus came, they joined in.
“I’m talking to the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways,” they sang. “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.”
“White people you have work to do,” Jackeline Stewart, 35, of Takoma Park, said into a megaphone. “This is about defunding the police. … But this is also about your boardrooms. If you go into your meetings and you don’t have a black person in the room, you have work to do.”
“It’s not just showing up at protests. It is not just calling your Congress members, it is every single day,” she said. “You have got to put in the work.”
“It is your voice that is going to make it happen, because people listen to people who look like you,” Stewart said.
The final speaker at the rally, Stephawn Lindsay, a 29-year-old go-go pioneer and a pastor, told a story of how baby elephants have their legs tied to restrain them.
“Like me, for a while you were like the elephant walking in circles,” he said. “It’s time to break out.”
“Break out!” the crowd shouted.
“Can you imagine if the elephant knew how powerful he was?” Lindsey asked.