DC protesters, WTOP anchor take refuge in homes on Swann Street

WTOP's Ken Duffy explains how he was trapped along with protesters in the streets of D.C.

Some homeowners along Swann Street in Northwest D.C. opened their homes to protesters who ended up trapped on the street as police converged to enforce the city’s curfew Monday night.

Among those trapped was WTOP anchor Ken Duffy as the crowd of police officers swarmed in and cut off access to the neighborhood.

After police deployed some type of an irritant and protesters scattered, Duffy followed several hundreds of protesters marching through Northwest D.C.

He said the group was attempting to go into the Adams Morgan Neighborhood until they heard a “flash bang.” They were then pushed by police away from the area and cut off at 15th Street.

The protesters then started to go down Swann Street and police filled in behind them. He said as they started to move the other way down Swann, away from the line of police, there was another line of police on 14th Street.

“We were pinned in,” Duffy said.

There were police in alleys on Swann to stop protesters from leaving the street.

“It was so no one could duck out sideways,” Duffy said. “I had my media pass on me, but I knew in this situation that may not work.”

He said he then sought out somebody who lived on the street. He identified himself and asked to shelter inside of their home until things calmed down.

But he wasn’t the only one. As he went into the woman’s house on Swann Street, others followed.  More than a dozen people were in the house.

“All of the sudden they wanted the lights out to make it completely dark,” Duffy said.

He was about to go live on WTOP and the people in the house did not want him to go live for fear of police finding out where they were hiding.

He said that the protesters were “absolutely peaceful, they just didn’t want to get arrested.”

He says they could hear the police yelling as they went door to door.

Protesters inside the home believed that if Duffy left, police would know they were in there.

Some of the protesters were subsequently arrested for violating the District’s curfew, but dozens were able to avoid arrest by taking refuge in homes on Swann between 14th and 15th streets.

After things calmed down, Duffy asked if he could go out the back door and they said yes. They were fine with that as long as he “ducked out.”

Rahul Dubey, another homeowner on Swann Street, helped protesters take refuge overnight.

“I was holding onto the railing with the door wide open yelling, ‘Get in the house,'” said Dubey, who let more than 100 protesters into his three-story home.

“A human tsunami rushed through my front door,” Dubey said. “It is so surreal I can’t believe this is happening.”

One protester in Dubey’s home, who wants to be identified only as “Meka” from Northern Virginia, said he was surprised at how rough the police were in enforcing the curfew.

“They started pushing us, starting hitting us and started macing people,” said Meka. “Originally when we came into the house police ran up to the door and sprayed mace into the house.”

Dubey let the protesters say through the night, even ordering pizza so they could eat. They finally started leaving Tuesday morning as the curfew expired.

“We have a right to peacefully protest and we definitely didn’t expect them to react like that,” said Meka.

WTOP’s Ken Duffy reported from D.C.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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