When Victoria Paris came to Lafayette Square on Sunday, on the third day of protests in the nation’s capital, she forgot to bring her own sign. It was the first time Paris, 22, had ever participated in a protest, but she said she had to come to speak out against police brutality. It’s been an issue for far too long, Paris added.
Then on Tuesday afternoon, as crowds started to gather between the square and St. John’s Episcopal Church, Paris came again from her home in Southeast Washington with her 2-year-old daughter Olivia, her sister, a friend and enough supplies to make 50 signs. She bought the materials at the craft store Michaels.
“Maybe a lot of other people would come here and forget to bring a sign,” said Paris, 22. “So, let me bring some paint. Let me bring this, that and the third.”
For two hours, they passed out signs to demonstrators marching to and from the epicenter of the protests, writing “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace” before they ran out of poster board to write on. So, Paris and Olivia were waiting, on the outer edge of the crowds, for her sister to return with more supplies.
“I didn’t think it’d be so popular,” she said.
Just to the side of Lafayette Square, Eva Rama, 22, and Judy Francis, 31, were running their own makeshift supply depot on Tuesday afternoon, handing out free water, apple juice, protective eyewear and milk of magnesia — Rama said she read online that milk of magnesia can potentially counteract the sting from pepper spray.
Rama said she went shopping with Francis for $400 worth of supplies — after soliciting donations from their friends on Instagram. The two drove from Alexandria with Rama’s brother and carried the things they bought after parking a few blocks away.
The women said they’d been outside for “a couple of hours,” and by about 5 p.m. Tuesday, most of their items had been handed out. Left were two dozen water bottles, some snacks and one bottle of milk of magnesia.
Rama and Francis said they came up with the idea because they wanted to support others protesting police brutality against black men and women without speaking for them.
“I don’t want to lead any chants,” Rama said. “I just want to lift the voices of others.”
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