Correction: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect last name for April Goggans. This version has been corrected.
Once again, they marched. Starting at the Chinatown arch and then moving along 14th Street NW to U Street, past New Year’s Eve festivities and cabbies waiting to pick up fares.
For one last time in 2015, members of the Black Lives Matter DMV movement, founded to call attention to allegations of police misconduct, took to the streets of the District on Thursday night to raise their voices in protest.
About 200 demonstrators streamed through the nation’s capital carrying signs, chanting slogans and not allowing 2016 to dawn without their once more calling out names that have become touchstones of the struggle for police accountability: Tamir Rice. Sandra Bland. Michael Brown. And many others.
“I hope the mayor is somewhere partying,” said April Goggans, 36, an organizer of Thursday’s march, referring to D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D). “And I hope she knows that in 2016, I’m not going to let her sleep and party.”
At about 8:45 p.m., the protesters, who spanned about two blocks, were marching in the middle of 14th Street. Rolling closures of cross streets created traffic snarls as the peaceful demonstrators stopped along the way.
For marchers, the names of those who have died during encounters with police have a grim national resonance. Tamir, 12, was shot in November 2014 by Cleveland police who mistook a toy gun for the real thing.
Bland was found hanged in a Texas jail cell in July amid what critics of the police handling of her case say were suspicious circumstances.
And there was Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old who was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014 — an incident that many think brought the issue of police misconduct to the forefront of the national conversation.
Thursday’s demonstration also recognized local figures, including Alonzo Smith, 27, who died in November while in the custody of armed security guards at a Southwest Washington apartment building.
“My son was beaten to death” in November, said Beverly Smith, 52, Alonzo Smith’s mother. “My son was heard walking through a parking lot in Southeast D.C. saying: ‘Help! Help! They’re trying to kill me!’ ”
The D.C. medical examiner’s office has ruled the death a homicide. Smith was found unconscious and handcuffed in the custody of the guards.
Beverly Smith noted that her son’s 28th birthday would have been Saturday, and she said that with the birthday and the holidays, “this had been a very trying time for me.”
“But I am very happy to be out here on this New Year’s Eve to bring a strong impact to 2016,” she said. “We will no longer stand for police officers and special police officers murdering our black people.”
That message was crucial for other marchers.
“We’re disrupting the status quo,” said Caroline Tyson, 20, a sophomore at Howard University. “People are just kind of going on with life as usual when we’re dying. Our daily lives are not continuing as normal anymore.”
All around the protesters, though, the rhythms of New Year’s Eve in the District continued. Revelers stood in line outside nightclubs, well-dressed couples exited cabs and diners packed into restaurants. A few stopped to watch the protesters.
“I look at the people in the restaurants,” said one of the marchers, Daniel Shore, 35, an English professor at Georgetown University, as he walked along 14th Street. “They should be out here with us.”