DC police, restaurants prepare for ‘Defeat the Mandate’ rally

D.C. police are on standby as the stated purpose of one group’s rally on the National Mall Sunday goes directly against a District mandate, and they’re preparing businesses for potential pushback.

District Department of Homeland Security Director Chris Rodriguez told council members Friday that police are fully mobilized for Sunday’s noon event of the Children’s Health Defense at the Lincoln Memorial.

The National Park Service permit for the “Defeat the Mandates American Homecoming” rally approved 20,000 participants. The group’s permit indicated that the rally is to “show unity in opposition to vaccine mandates.”

However, most D.C. businesses are under a mandate to require proof of vaccination from customers before they enter. While Rodriguez said there is no indication, based on previous rallies, that this group will be violent, he said the city is prepared if there are any problems between rallygoers and D.C. businesses.

There is no indication the group will turn violent, he said.

“They haven’t shown in other cities; there have been no violent encounters,” Rodriguez told council members.

Working with the D.C. Restaurant Association, the city’s Department of Economic Development, its Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration, and his department, Rodriguez said, it has been “extremely proactive in communicating with them, with the restaurant association to make sure they have the information they need and they know who to call.”

The event begins with a march at around 11:30 a.m. from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, where there will be multiple speakers and a rally, according to the group’s permit.

U.S. Park Police will temporary close 17th Street NW, starting around 11:20 a.m., as demonstrators march towards the program, according to the permit. Marshals will also direct participants to four pathways to the rally’s stage.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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