Demonstrations continue in DC area following huge turnout

Eileen Perry, of Washington, and her son Micah Coleman, 3, attend a protest, Sunday, June 7, 2020, near the White House in Washington, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. “Our ancestors marched for us to have equality,” says Perry, “this is history now as well and I wanted my kids to see that.” (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The latest
  • Demonstrators made their way to downtown D.C. Sunday for 10th day of protests.
  • President Donald Trump said in a tweet he’s ordering the National Guard to start withdrawing from D.C.
  • Demonstrations are expected to continue into another week.

Demonstrators gathered for more protests Sunday throughout the D.C. region after huge crowds filled D.C. streets Saturday, with demonstrations expected to continue another week.

Protesters marched and chanted. “Black lives matter.” “What is his name? George Floyd. Say her name. Breonna Taylor.” “No justice, no peace. No racist police.”

Protesters chant while marching in D.C. on Sunday. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)

WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez reported from demonstrations near the White House that the number of people out Sunday did not appear to be waning.

But, “The mood at Lafayette (Park) is considerably more quiet than yesterday. It is a bit more reflective,” Alvarez said.

“Many of the same places you now see the food trucks parked, and the ice cream trucks, people sitting down, having a bite to eat, or having drum circles, or chatting with friends in this area were the same places where, only days ago, there was tear gas, or burning SUVs, or vandalism against storefronts,” he noted.

“The turn in atmosphere here from violence to more of a celebration of black life in America has been almost shocking. It’s happened almost overnight.”

As a group of protesters made their way through Chinatown, cars at one intersection stopped for the crowd. Drivers of the vehicles rolled down their windows, put their fists in the air and chanted along: “I can’t breathe. Off my neck.”

Saturday’s demonstrations were D.C.’s largest since the May 25 killing of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, but the protests remained peaceful.

Thousands turned out for Saturday’s protests, though a specific number was not immediately available. “MPD does not provide crowd estimates,” D.C. police said.

Massive crowds also gathered to protest racism in other major U.S. cities and around the world.

Saturday in the District, police told WTOP one arrest was made for property destruction.

“Overall, there were peaceful demonstrations throughout the District of Columbia,” D.C. police spokesperson Kristen Metzger said.

“No arrests were made and no personnel sustained injuries yesterday,” a U.S. Secret Service spokesperson said.

Women lie prone on the street with hundreds of others for 8 minutes and 46 seconds–the amount of time Minneapolis police restrained George Floyd–at a protest Sunday, June 7, 2020, near the White House in Washington over the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after being restrained by police in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Trump orders National Guard to start withdrawal

After Saturday’s demonstrations in D.C. went off largely without incident, President Donald Trump said in a tweet Sunday morning he’s ordering the National Guard to start withdrawing from the District. Trump said fewer people showed up to demonstrations Saturday than expected, and everything is “under perfect control.”

While Trump downplayed Saturday’s crowds, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Sunday morning on ABC’s “This Week” that it was his response to the unrest that led to the largest crowd in the city since Floyd’s death.

“What he actually did, as you saw for the remaining days, was turn out more people, and more people who were there for peaceful protest,” she said.

Bowser pointed specifically to the use of force against reportedly peaceful protesters Monday at Lafayette Square, saying that was a turning point that drove more people to come out and peacefully demonstrate.

“What Americans saw was federal police forces tear gassing peaceful Americans, and how they responded made clear to the president that Americans would exercise their First Amendment rights and they would do it peacefully,” she said.

Black Lives Matter DC continued its criticism of the mayor, whose actions have been otherwise widely celebrated, tweeting out a statement.

“We stand by our critique of the DC Mayor Muriel Bowser after the unveiling of the Black Lives Matter Mural and the renaming of Black Lives Matter Plaza,” the statement reads in part.

“Mayor Muriel Bowser must be held accountable for the lip service she pays in making such a statement while she continues to intentionally underfund and cut services and programs that meet the basic survival needs of Black people in DC.”

The statement is also available in document form.

What’s next?

Demonstrations are expected to continue into another week. There are questions about whether the scope of the protests can become something more durable.

Unlike the major D.C. protests of the past, Saturday’s events weren’t strongly organized. And in some cases, there were mini-marches that began in residential neighborhoods before converging on 16th Street.

Many protesters carried signs urging participants to vote with the passion they brought to the streets.

The Rev. Al Sharpton has said he is organizing a March on Washington for late August that would energize voters heading into the fall presidential campaign.

WTOP’s John Domen, Ken Duffy, Dave Dildine, Alejandro Alvarez, Melissa Howell, Valerie Bonk, Thomas Robertson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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