Mayor Muriel Bowser warned protesters to be off the streets before 7 p.m. to avoid being arrested on the second day of Washington’s curfew, which coincides with the primary elections.
Many citizens have voiced concerns about being able to vote without being arrested, since the polls close at 8 p.m. today, just an hour after the curfew is in effect. However, Bowser said voters, poll workers and essential employees have nothing to worry about, during a press conference this afternoon at the John A. Wilson Building.
Peter Newsham, chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, said that officers arrested about 300 people during four days of protests incited by the death of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, while being detained by police in Minneapolis.
Most of the arrests were for violations of the 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, followed by burglary and rioting, Newsham said. Two officers were injured outside the Judiciary Square police station and one police car was set on fire, he added.
Protesters assembled in Lafayette Square on Monday to peacefully protest, but were met with federal force, munitions and tear gas instead. Newsham stated that federal law enforcement “warned” protesters to disperse at 6:30 p.m., because of presidential movement in the area. The Metropolitan Police Department didn’t “participate in that movement,” he said. However, 54 people were arrested at 7:20 p.m. for curfew violations nearby at 17th and I Streets.
The police chief also said a large group of protesters gathered around 9 p.m. in the 2400 block of 14th Street Northwest, which resulted in 174 arrests nearby on Swann Street. A resident there allowed some protesters to escape into his home.
Newsham maintains that his department has had low involvement of what took place in the city, including the “unplanned movement of the president.” However, he admits that his officers used riot-control chemicals against protesters such as stink bombs, CS or counter-strike sprays and OC bombs.
President Trump has made it clear that he wants to show force in D.C. along with the rest of the nation to silence protesters. Bowser was informed that Trump is actively “seeking national guard support, possible army support and federal police from other federal entities” to bring the riots to a halt.
Bowser has openly expressed her concerns about federal involvement during the protest, even going as far as to calling munition firing at protesters during presidential movement around the district “shameful” in a tweet.
I imposed a curfew at 7pm. A full 25 minutes before the curfew & w/o provocation, federal police used munitions on peaceful protestors in front of the White House, an act that will make the job of @DCPoliceDept officers more difficult. Shameful!
DC residents — Go home. Be safe
— Muriel Bowser #StayHomeDC at 7 pm (@MurielBowser) June 2, 2020