Police disperse protesters in downtown DC after late night march

Protests in downtown D.C. came to an abrupt end Sunday night with the widespread use of crowd control munitions in Black Lives Matter Plaza for the second night in a row, following a march to near U Street.

North of Lafayette Square shortly after midnight, WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez reported D.C. police used impact munitions and flash grenades on protesters following the conclusion of a march from the area of 16th and H streets to near the U Street corridor and back.

Other than the frequent use of small firecrackers, the initial event remained peaceful. Billed as a march calling for the abolition of police, it had been organized online hours earlier in answer to the aggressive dispersal of protesters from the area near the White House on Saturday, during which at least five protesters were arrested and numerous officers injured.

Once the march concluded after midnight, Alvarez said lingering protesters began to congregate near a D.C. police cordon outside St. John’s Episcopal Church, where officers stood readied with helmets and shields.

After a bottle was thrown, police abruptly responded with a volley of flash grenades, rubber pellets and canisters which saturated the air with thick gas for blocks. It is unclear whether tear gas was deployed.

Alvarez witnessed at least one person detained. D.C. police had yet to release information on nightly protest-related arrests as of Monday morning.

Initially on Sunday night, Alvarez said the group was marching away from the White House and didn’t seem to have a specific plan. Some in the crowd boasted homemade shields and umbrellas, reminiscent of tactics recently used among protesters in Portland. A large contingent of bicycles led the way.

The marchers briefly stopped outside Le Diplomate, a French restaurant on 14th Street, where servers offered cups of water to protesters as they read the names of Black men and women killed by law enforcement to outdoor diners.

Other than the persistent presence of a D.C. police helicopter shining a searchlight on the group from above, Alvarez said police kept their distance during the march itself.

WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez contributed to this report.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up