Protests continued as it poured; plans in works for a big Saturday protest

The latest

Even as the skies opened up and rain poured heavily in D.C., protesters stayed in place Thursday for the seventh night in a row to demand justice and change following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Participants were not deterred by the severe weather and continued to march downtown, WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez reported.

Crowds near the White House chanted, “We’re not leaving!” Some made their way toward the U.S. Capitol.

Rain didn't stop protesters from lining D.C. streets Thursday. WTOP's Dave Dildine reports

There was no curfew Thursday in D.C., unlike the previous four days.

Protesters gathered throughout the day Thursday around D.C., from downtown to near the Friendship Heights Metro station.

Near the D.C.-Maryland border, protesters began organizing around midday. Wearing masks and holding signs with rallying cries for equality written on them, the protesters peacefully occupied several blocks of Wisconsin Avenue.

Demonstrators, many with their hands raised in the air, marched through Friendship Heights on Wisconsin Avenue Thursday.

In Northwest D.C., protesters organized a sit-in of Wisconsin Avenue near Tenleytown. WTOP’s Kate Ryan reported that police blocked traffic so the demonstration could be held.

NBC Washington’s Mark Segraves reported that police had left H Street in Northwest D.C. and were allowing people in cars to enter areas filled with protesters. Alvarez later reported that police had resumed coordinating traffic for protesters, though there were FBI agents in “tactical gear” watching the crowds.
There were what looked to be hundreds of protesters gathered in the area of 16th and H Street NW, near the temporary White House fencing, and people were gathered in a tight circle, according to Alvarez.
Alvarez, who has heavily covered the D.C. protests, said there seemed to be fewer protesters near the White House than in previous days.
On Thursday, the U.S. Secret Service announced it would be closing certain areas around the White House to increase security.
“The U.S. Secret Service, in coordination with the U.S. Park Police, is announcing the closure of the areas in and around the White House complex. These closures are in an effort to maintain the necessary security measures surrounding the White House complex, while also allowing for peaceful demonstration,” a Secret Service spokesperson said in a statement.
The Ellipse and its roadways, sidewalks and side panels, E Street and sidewalks between 15th and 17th Streets, Sherman Park and Hamilton Place, Pennsylvania Avenue between 15th and 17th streets will be closed until June 10, according to the Secret Service.

In Richmond, Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue would be taken down.

Monuments along the avenue have been rallying points during the protests, and they have been tagged with graffiti, including messages that say “end police brutality” and “stop white supremacy.”

Protester holds sign in DC
Demonstrators protest Thursday, June 4, 2020, near the White House in Washington, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Protesters Demonstrate In D.C. Against Death Of George Floyd By Police Officer In Minneapolis
Rain falls over a peaceful protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd near Lafayette Park and the White House, on June 4, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Protesters Demonstrate In D.C. Against Death Of George Floyd By Police Officer In Minneapolis
Demonstrators protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd at the fence line of Lafayette Park and the White House, on June 4, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

America Protests Washington
Demonstrators protest, Thursday, June 4, 2020, near the White House in Washington, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Protesters in rain in DC
In pouring rain, demonstrators protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd near Lafayette Park and the White House, on June 4, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Americas Protests In Washington
Demonstrators protest Thursday, June 4, 2020, near the White House in Washington, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Protesters in the rain
Demonstrators protest, Thursday, June 4, 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. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Protesters in the rain in Washington
Demonstrators protest, Thursday, June 4, 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. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Protesters at White House gate
Demonstrators protest, Thursday, June 4, 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. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Protesters chant in the rain
Demonstrators protest, Thursday, June 4, 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. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Demonstrators protest, Thursday, June 4, 2020, near the White House in Washington, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Utah National Guard soldiers stand on a police line as demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Thursday, June 4, 2020, near the White House in Washington.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Protesters Demonstrate In D.C. Against Death Of George Floyd By Police Officer In Minneapolis
Demonstrators peacefully protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd at the Lincoln Memorial, on June 4, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A woman addresses a crowd gathered at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, on June 4, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images/Win McNamee)

Demonstrators protest Thursday, June 4, 2020, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial 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. (AP/Alex Brandon)

Protestors gather near the Capitol building in D.C. (Shannon Finney)

Photographers pose near the Capitol building in D.C. during the seventh day of protests in the city. (Shannon Finney)

Black Lives Matter protests filled the D.C. streets Thursday, the seventh day of protesting after the death of George Floyd. (Shannon Finney)

A protestor in D.C. holds up a sign recognizing Breonna Taylor, who was killed in March by police in Louisville. (Shannon Finney)

A man holds up a sign recognizing the amount of time officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd, killing him in Minneapolis last week. (Shannon Finney)

A man holds up a sign while riding a bicycle near the Washington Monument on Day 7 of protests in D.C. (Shannon Finney)

Protests continued Thursday, with many people holding “Black Lives Matter” signs in the streets of D.C. (Shannon Finney)

A man walks his dog with a “Black Lives Matter” sign around its collar. (Shannon Finney)

“I can’t breath.” “Black Lives Matter.” Many signs bearing these phrases were held during Day 7 of protests in D.C. (Shannon Finney)

A man walks on a D.C. street holding a sign during Day 7 of protests. (Shannon Finney)

A large crowd assembles in D.C. on Day 7 of protests. (Shannon Finney)

A man carries an upside down American flag during Day 7 of protests in D.C. (Shannon Finney)

A military vehicle seen on the streets of D.C. during Day 7 of protests. (Shannon Finney)

More military presence near the National Museum of African American History and Culture. (Shannon Finney)

While making their way to their posts for the day, members of an airborne military unit tasked with crowd control move up 15th Street outside the U.S. Treasury Building June 4, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images/Win McNamee)

Demonstrators walk past the Washington Monument as they protest Thursday, June 4, 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. (AP/Alex Brandon)

Demonstrators walk as they protest Thursday, June 4, 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. (AP/Alex Brandon)

Demonstrators protest Thursday, June 4, 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. (AP/Alex Brandon)

DNC chair Tom Perez, right, joins demonstrators protesting Thursday, June 4, 2020, 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. (AP/Alex Brandon)

A worker cleans graffiti following several nights of protests Thursday, June 4, 2020, near the White House in Washington. (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

With the White House in the background, Hengameh Pourkarim, an ICU nurse, joins demonstrators as people gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Demonstrators protest Thursday, June 4, 2020, near the White House in Washington, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Protesters gather in Friendship Heights near the border of Maryland and D.C. on Thursday, June 4, 2020. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)

Senate Democrats, including Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), take a knee as they participate in a moment of silence to honor George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement in Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol on June 4, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images/Sarah Silbiger)

Standing near a statue of Frederick Douglass, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., left, Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., center, and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., right, pause during a prayer Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 4, 2020, during an event to commemorate the life of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP/Susan Walsh)

Democratic Senators pause for 8 minutes and 46 seconds on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 4, 2020, to commemorate the life of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP/Susan Walsh)

Protesters gather in Friendship Heights near the border of Maryland and D.C. on Thursday, June 4, 2020. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)

Protesters gather in Friendship Heights near the border of Maryland and D.C. on Thursday, June 4, 2020. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)

Protesters gather in Friendship Heights near the border of Maryland and D.C. on Thursday, June 4, 2020. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)

Protesters gather in Friendship Heights near the border of Maryland and D.C. on Thursday, June 4, 2020. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)

Protesters gather in Friendship Heights near the border of Maryland and D.C. on Thursday, June 4, 2020. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)

Projected text reading “Respect existence or expect resistance” is seen on a facade of a building for 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 4, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images/Anadolu Agency)

Projected text reading “Demilitarize the police” is seen on an army vehicle on June 4, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images/Anadolu Agency)

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Protester holds sign in DC
Protesters Demonstrate In D.C. Against Death Of George Floyd By Police Officer In Minneapolis
Protesters Demonstrate In D.C. Against Death Of George Floyd By Police Officer In Minneapolis
America Protests Washington
Protesters in rain in DC
Americas Protests In Washington
Protesters in the rain
Protesters in the rain in Washington
Protesters at White House gate
Protesters chant in the rain
Protesters Demonstrate In D.C. Against Death Of George Floyd By Police Officer In Minneapolis

Saturday protest may be ‘largest that we’ve had’ in DC, police chief

Local leaders said they are expecting even bigger demonstrations over the weekend.

“We have a lot of public, open-source information to suggest that the event on this upcoming Saturday may be one of the largest that we’ve had in the city,” D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said during a briefing Thursday.

“We expect that Saturday’s demonstration will, like I said, be more of the same peaceful demonstrators coming to exercise their First Amendment right in Washington, D.C.,” he said.

ACLU sues Trump administration over clearing of protesters from Lafayette Square ahead of photo op

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit on behalf of protesters who were cleared from Lafayette Square near the White House ahead of President Donald Trump’s photo op at St. John’s Church.

The lawsuit accuses Trump, Attorney General William Barr, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and others of violating the protesters’ right to free speech and assembly, along with violations of rights guaranteed to them under the Fourth Amendment.

National Guard departing DC

Bowser also thanked the governors of Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware for not sending National Guard troops to D.C. to quell the protests.

She once again called for D.C. statehood so that the nation’s capital would have autonomy over how the National Guard is deployed in the city. As it stands, the decision to deploy troops to the District is made on the federal level.

“The very first thing is we want troops from out-of-state out of Washington, D.C.,” Bowser said.

On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper reversed a decision that would have sent troops back to their home bases. Several hundred troops were sent to the area to assist in quelling violent protests in the area.

Hundreds of troops were told Thursday that they would be sent home, according to The Associated Press. Remaining troops are expected to be sent home in the next several days.

Democrats draw up police reform bills in Congress

Congressional Democrats, powered by the Congressional Black Caucus, are preparing a sweeping package of police reforms as pressure builds on the federal government to respond to the death of George Floyd and others in law enforcement interactions.

With the urgency of mass protests outside their doors, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are working furiously to draft what could become one of the most ambitious efforts in years to oversee the way law enforcement works. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, both former presidential candidates, are expected to announce a package in coming days, with a House bill coming soon.

Both the Senate and House efforts are expected to include changes to police accountability laws, such as revising immunity provisions and creating a database of police use-of-force incidents. Revamped training requirements are planned, too, among them a ban on the use of choke holds. Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has endorsed such a ban.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., knelt with his hands behind his back while other congressional lawmakers paused for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the amount of time Floyd was pinned down with a knee on his neck while in police custody — in the Capitol Building Visitor Center on Thursday.

WTOP’s Abigail Constantino, Thomas Robertson, Rick Massimo, Alejandro Alvarez, Kate Ryan and Will Vitka and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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