Sixth night of DC protests peaceful

Demonstrators marched peacefully to the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday night, protesting the death of George Floyd in Minnesota and demanding that laws be changed to prevent more like it.

Along their route from near the White House, there were troops in fatigues and officers from federal agencies keeping watch on the crowd.

Barricades were put up around the Capitol, and the Capitol Police stood guard behind them.

The latest

“We came here because they make laws here and we want the laws to change,” said Mohammed Wagdy, 26, of Prince George’s County.

Wednesday night’s D.C. curfew ended at 6 a.m. Thursday, with no reports of any arrests.

As the District’s 11 p.m. curfew went into effect, groups of protesters that had been marching throughout the District converged once again in the area of Lafayette Square near the White House, where they protested earlier Wednesday. Some of them sang Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me” to cap a sixth day of protests, WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez reported.

Protesters chant ‘I can’t breathe’ on Pennsylvania Avenue

Around 8 p.m., groups of peaceful protesters that had been marching throughout D.C. gathered again in Lafayette Park, where earlier law enforcement forced them back half a block.

They had been protesting at different locations in D.C., during a sweltering day with temperatures reaching 92 degrees.

Protesters laid down on Pennsylvania Avenue near the Wilson building chanting “I can’t breathe” for about 8 minutes.

Those were the words that Floyd could be heard saying in a video that showed a police officer with his knee on Floyd’s neck while he was being taken into custody.

Before that, the protesters had come from the U.S. Capitol, where the names of those who died during police encounters over the years were read aloud. Demonstrators could be seen kneeling on the West Lawn.

They also stopped in front of the Trump International Hotel.

A vigil had been planned at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lafayette Square, where President Donald Trump had his picture taken Monday after protesters were cleared of the area.

However, Wednesday’s vigil was moved to the intersection of 16th and I streets because the church was blocked off by federal officers.

A line of law enforcement officers pushed away the protesters from the intersection about half a block north between H and I streets, WTOP’s Ken Duffy reported.

The Episcopal Diocese of Washington organized the event after Trump was widely criticized for posing for photos in front of the church after protesters were forcibly cleared from the area.

“In faithfulness to our savior who lived a life of nonviolence and sacrificial love, we align ourselves with those seeking justice for the death of George Floyd and countless others through the sacred act of peaceful protest,” Washington Bishop Mariann Budde said in a news release announcing the vigil.

Across the river in Fairfax County, Virginia, hundreds gathered in Herndon’s Town Greene Park and marched through the town, NBC Washington reported. Watch a video of the protest in Vienna below.

Hogan: Maryland National Guard members guarding monuments

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said members of the state’s National Guard are in D.C. only to patrol monuments.

Hogan said Wednesday that Defense Secretary Mark Esper called him directly to request guard members, because he did not want to use active duty military during protests in the nation’s capital.

Hogan emphasized that Maryland’s guard members had nothing to do with the dispersal of protesters near the White House on Monday.

Maryland’s guard members went to D.C. on Tuesday, and Hogan said they’re on a specific mission to “spread out, standing at monuments.”

Troops flown to DC in national response

Though nationwide gatherings continued, calls to charge the other three former Minneapolis police officers who were at the scene of Floyd’s death were addressed. Prosecutors also elevated charges against Derek Chauvin, the officer accused of kneeling on Floyd’s neck.

Ahead of Wednesday’s protests, over 1,000 Army troops were flown to the D.C. region. The Pentagon made the announcement less than a day after the president threatened to deploy the U.S. military to American cities if local governments didn’t crack down on violent demonstrations.

Esper announced Wednesday afternoon the troops were unnecessary and would begin to leave, but went back on that announcement later in the day after a visit to the White House.

The decision to keep the troops in the area came after Bowser said in a briefing Wednesday that she is looking into the legality of measures taken by the federal government during the protests.

Bowser said the use of a low-flying helicopter to scatter protesters and federal officers blocking city streets are points of contention.

“We think that the federal purposes are being stretched, and there has to be a determination of what federal purposes are being served, and that’s what we will continue to examine legally and push back on,” Bowser said.

WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez, Ken Dufy and Matt Small contributed to this report. 

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

Thomas Robertson

Thomas Robertson is an Associate Producer and Web Writer/Editor at WTOP. After graduating in 2019 from James Madison University, Thomas moved away from Virginia for the first time in his life to cover the local government beat for a small daily newspaper in Zanesville, Ohio.

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Protesters near the Capitol Building
Protesters assemble near the Capitol Building. (WTOP/Ken Duffy)

National Guard soldiers line the street
Utah National Guard soldiers line the street as demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Wednesday, June 3, 2020, near the White House in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Demonstrators stair down
Demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

solider fist-bumps with demonstrator
A Utah National Guard solider fist-bumps with a demonstrator as protests over the death of George Floyd continue, Wednesday, June 3, 2020, near the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Demonstrator dressed as Batman
A demonstrator dressed as Batman speaks as protests over the death of George Floyd continue, Wednesday, June 3, 2020, near the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Protesters hold signs
Protests over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died last week after being pinned down by a white police officer in Minneapolis, continue on the sixth consecutive day in Washington, DC, United States on June 3, 2020. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

National Guard Soldier in front
A South Carolina National Guard soldier stands on a police line as demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Wednesday, June 3, 2020, near the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Protesters hold up phones
Protesters hold up their phones during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd, outside the White House on June 3, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Security forces in front of the Washington Monument
Security forces take measures in front of the Washington Monument on the sixth consecutive day of protests over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died last week after being pinned down by a white police officer in Minneapolis on June 3, 2020 in Washington, DC, United States. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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Protesters lay down on Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C. (WTOP/Ken Duffy)

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Protesters kneel in front of the U.S. Capitol. (WTOP/Ken Duffy)

protest
Protesters stop at the Trump International Hotel. (WTOP/Ken Duffy)

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Protesters make their way to the Trump International Hotel. (WTOP/Ken Duffy)

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Protesters pray during a vigil. (WTOP/Ken Duffy)

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St. John’s Episcopal Church holds a prayer vigil. (WTOP/Ken Duffy)

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Law enforcement officers form a line to block protesters. (WTOP/Ken Duffy)

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The protest reaches the U.S. Capitol. (WTOP/Mitchell Miller)

The Rev. Mariann Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, speaks Wednesday, June 3, 2020, down the block from St. John’s Church, that is across Lafayette Park from the White House in Washington.

Demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Wednesday, June 3, 2020, near the White House in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks to the media as demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Wednesday, June 3, 2020, near the White House in Washington.

Demonstrators peacefully protest outside of Trump International Hotel Washington on Pennsylvania Avenue on June 3, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

Demonstrators participate in a peaceful protest on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the Trump International Hotel to protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, on June 3, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

Members of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and other clergy lead a group in prayer in front of police as they block 16th Street near Lafayette Park and the White House on June 3, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

Demonstrators march down Pennsylvania Avenue near the Trump International Hotel during a protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, on June 3, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

Protesters stand in front of U.S. Army National Guard members as they demonstrate the death of George Floyd near the White House on June 3, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (center) moves through the crowd as protesters demonstrate the death of George Floyd near the White House on June 3, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

Police and security forces on H Street block access to 16th Street Northwest of Lafayette Square near the White House, during protests over the death of George Floyd on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

Police forces and National Guard vehicles are used to block 16th Street near Lafayette Park and the White House on June 3, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

Demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Wednesday, June 3, 2020, near the White House in Washington.

Demonstrators protest the death of George Floyd, Wednesday, June 3, 2020, at Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers.

Demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Wednesday, June 3, 2020, near the White House in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers.

U.S. Army members form a police line on 16th Street as demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Wednesday, June 3, 2020, near the White House in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers.

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Protesters near the Capitol Building
National Guard soldiers line the street
Demonstrators stair down
solider fist-bumps with demonstrator
Demonstrator dressed as Batman
Protesters hold signs
National Guard Soldier in front
Protesters hold up phones
Security forces in front of the Washington Monument
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