DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announces that the citywide curfew would continue for another two days. Candy Chan reports on the latest developments in the nation’s capital.
After a weekend that witnessed both peaceful protests and violent mayhem across the nation, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser held a press conference Monday morning announcing extended curfew hours and discouraging destruction of property.
Despite having set a citywide curfew from 11 pm Sunday through 6 am Monday, Bowser reported having seen “significant damage” to the city this morning. As a result of the damage, the curfew will be extended for two days, starting at 7 pm through the following morning.
Bowser denounced the destruction of the city by protestors. “We certainly empathize with the righteous cause that people are here protesting every single American should be outraged by the murder of George Floyd, however, smashed windows in looting are becoming a bigger story than the broken systems that got us here,” she added.
Protests and riots erupted for the sixth day all across the U.S. after the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man, by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After a video went viral showing Derek Chauvin, a police officer, with his knee on Floyd’s neck as he was handcuffed and on the ground, people outraged at Floyd’s death went online and out on the streets to protest police brutality and racism. Though many demonstrations remained peaceful, this weekend saw clashes between police and protestors that escalated to violence.
Peter Newsham, Chief of Police for the Metropolitan Police Department, joined Bowser in assessing the damage done to the city from the rioting and looting on Sunday night. The damage was heaviest around Lafayette Square, where there was a “significant fire” at the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, but also extended northeast DC, upper northwest DC and to the Georgetown area. The fire in the basement of St. John’s Church has since been put out, the fire department tweeted.
According to Newsham, 88 people were arrested Sunday night and half of those individuals were charged with felony rioting. A number of people were also arrested for violating the curfew. Newsham said the tactics he saw by the people, whom he called “the antagonist,” appear to be organized in nature.
Newsham thanked Bowser for the decision to set curfew Monday and Tuesday night. “This is a decision that was forced upon us by the behaviour of the people who are intent on coming to our city and destroying property and hurting people,” he said.
Newsham: ‘I don’t think we will have the whole story’
The MPD is planning on making more arrests by identifying participants through the CCTV system and private and public cameras. Newsham encouraged business owners to share any images or information they might have about the people destroying property and announced that the MPD will offer a reward of $1000 for everybody who can identify participants seen looting and damaging the city on camera.
In responding to a question about the organized nature of the rioting and looting, Newsham said, “I don’t think that tells the whole story. I don’t think we will have the whole story until we’ve made more arrests because I anticipate there will be more arrests from the images that we have. With the help of the community and the business owners will be able to identify those people and get a better picture of exactly who these folks are.”
Bowser also used the press conference to announce a new COVID-19 testing site in downtown DC where people can get tested without an appointment. She also reported 56 new cases of COVID-19 in the district, bringing the total of people infected to 8800.