Protesters marched through Washington, D.C., on Tuesday night, despite facing the threat of violence from local and federal law enforcement officials and military police officers deployed by the Trump administration in an overwhelming show of force meant to stamp out demonstrations against police brutality and racism.
In downtown Washington, a new law enforcement agency or military vehicle was around every corner. Military police officers outfitted for a war zone lined up in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Attorney General William Barr promised “even greater law enforcement resources and support” in the District of Columbia on Tuesday, the day after he ordered law enforcement officers to use projectiles and pepper spray to clear protesters from a space near the White House so that President Donald Trump could walk to a nearby church to have his photo taken holding a Bible.
Members of the D.C. National Guard directed traffic, their Humvees stationed nearby. Department of Homeland Security police formed a line near the Veterans Affairs Building. Drug Enforcement Administration agents were posted on street corners. Uniformed members of the armed services sat in military vehicles near the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Border Patrol officers and U.S. Customs agents were stationed near the Ronald Reagan Building, and men who called themselves “assets of DOJ” or with “the federal government” were posted near the Justice Department and FBI building.
But thousands turned out anyway to bring attention to the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man killed last week by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, even as he pleaded that he could not breathe, and to the many, many other Black people killed by police. The protests weren’t suppressed, in spite of scare tactics.
Demonstrators streamed en masse toward downtown, some of them chanting Floyd’s name.