Washingtonians fanned our across the nation’s capital to protest on Saturday, taking over landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial and surrounding the White House as police blocked most of the major roads leading into downtown.
Demonstrations have broken out in dozens of cities across the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who was killed after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
As hundreds of marchers streamed toward the Capitol, helpers handed out water bottles as the temperature climbed towards 90 degrees. As the sun bore down, dozens of protesters stood on the steps of a Senate office building named for the Georgia segregationist Richard Russell, holding signs aloft that declared that “Black Lives Matter” and demanding justice — now.
A few feet away, thousands of masked protesters marched down Constitution Avenue in the direction of the National Mall.
Here’s how the protests unfolded in Washington, DC, throughout Saturday:
Protesters marched peacefully down the newly renamed Black Lives Matter plaza in front of the White House, chanting slogans like, “No justice, no peace,” “Black Lives Matter,” and, “Whose streets? Our streets.” Protesters told Insider they wanted to show allyship with the black community. “I think we need to stop being silent — we’re here to use our voice,” said 23-year-old Melanie Herrera. Demonstrators said they wanted to see extensive police reform in the wake of Floyd’s death — some advocated for defunding police departments. Chris Moore, a 26-year-old Maryland resident, said he hoped that the protests would result in concrete police reforms. “I know people just throw out defunding the police,” he said, “but if we defund want to make sure that those funds that are taken away go into community projects. More after school programs,” he said. Many of the protesters have been attending demonstrations all week — 50-year-old Amos Tevelow said he had attended DC protests for six or seven days straight. “It’s a very hopeful moment,” he said. “You start with ending police brutality and you work your way up the chain from there.” A number of frontline healthcare workers and medical students also showed up to protest — they wore scrubs and face masks and carried signs saying, “White coats for black lives.” Though police and National Guard troops had a heavy presence in previous protests, leading to several violent clashes with protesters earlier in the week, they weren’t as visible on Saturday.