A group of hundreds of protesters marched through the streets of central Washington on Monday afternoon and sang “Black Lives Matter!” and slogans condemn President Trump as they approached his hotel on 11th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
D.C. police officers on bicycles competed at the scene and placed themselves in front of the Trump International Hotel. Protesters pushed up against a barrier, knelt down and shouted to the police: “Kneel with us! Kneel with us! “
A female African-American officer who only identified himself as Officer Brown looked straight at the protesters and grabbed his bike. When she took one knee, the audience burst into cheers.
The attention then turned to more than a dozen other officers. “Officer, do you agree with us?”
Suddenly the officer, an African American whose uniform gave his name as P.D. Harris fell short on his knees. “You’re a good man, officer,” cried West. “You all can do it. Was like Officer Harris. “
Somehow they seemed to listen. Half a dozen more officers also fell to their knees.
But now Officer Harris was on his feet. “Do it again,” urged Edward Dana, a 24-year-old University of DC student and employee of the Disability Department. When Harris refused, Dana was upset.
Suddenly another protester grabbed him just hours earlier. “Let’s be cool,” said Tony Norris, a 22-year-old from Waldorf, Md., Who worked in a music store until the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“This man still has a family to come back to,” said Norris, who is African American. “He’ll take a knee when he needs to.” Harris gave a fist skin to a passing protest, and Dana joined the rest of the crowd.
But the interaction left West, who is white, frustrated. “He took one knee a second, but then he stood up,” he said. “They take a knee with us but as soon as — hits the fan, they always stand up.”
Officer Harris refused to give his full name or comment. “I think you understand,” he said, still standing in front of the Trump Hotel.
26-year-old Daniel Smith sat on an electric box and caught everything on his phone. The American native came after his work at a spice factory and wanted to post what he saw on Facebook.
“I don’t know – I think it’s a kind of conflict resolution,” he said of the officers after jumping off the box. “It’s a strategy.”
Earlier Monday, District Police Chief Peter Newsham was asked about officers kneeling during protests, which at least one did Sunday night on 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
“There is no one in this police department that I know who is not personally affected by what we saw in Minneapolis with George Floyd’s death,” Newsham said. “Our police officers, like everyone else, are people. But we also have a job to do. We have to make sure that the people who are willing to destroy our city are held accountable for it, so we have to have that balance.
“One side of me is very happy that people understand how we feel about this issue and how we are horrified by this issue. Similarly, we are very, very disturbed to be here in this city and to see some people demolish our city. As the mayor mentioned, it is not promoting the cause, it is not a respectful way to treat the memory of a person who unnecessarily lost life in this country. “
This post has been updated.