Cleanup on Monday morning in downtown D.C. after a third consecutive night of demonstrations over the death of George Floyd.
This story was last updated at 3:02 p.m.
After a third night of clashes between police and demonstrators in the District, Mayor Muriel Bowser says the city is preparing for additional protests as soon as today. A curfew will kick in at 7 p.m. on both Monday and Tuesday, which will last until the morning.
"This is not a decision we make lightly," said Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham about the curfew during a press conference on Monday. "This will disrupt your lives. This is a decision that was forced upon us."
Sunday marked the third consecutive day of protests in D.C. and around the country, after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Bowser spent part of Monday morning surveying damage in Lafayette Park, which included the aftermath of a fire in the basement of the historic St. John's Church. "We applaud the American spirit of protest," Bowser said during the press conference. "We do not and we will not allow the continued destruction of our hometown by people who are coming here to protest or D.C. residents ... Every American should be outraged by the murder of George Floyd. However, smashed windows and looting are becoming a bigger story than the broken systems that got us here."
Between Sunday and early Monday, there were 88 arrests in D.C., per Newsham. Half of those arrestees, or 44, were charged with felony rioting. Newsham says the investigation into property destruction during the protests is ongoing, and he expects more arrests. Police are using public and private camera networks to find more culprits of property damage.
While those arrested "are largely from this region," Newsham said, "I don't think that tells the whole story." He maintained that investigations from the police indicate "a criminal enterprise coming in to destroy our property" but did not provide any evidence backing up that theory. Across the country, local leaders have blamed "outside agitators" for nearby chaos—an assertion that, so far, lacks clear factual support.
Bowser instituted an 11 p.m. curfew in the city on Sunday evening, but demonstrators were out in the streets of D.C. for more than an hour and a half after that. By that point, there was damage to businesses and public spaces in a series of neighborhoods in the city, including downtown, Mount Vernon Square, Friendship Heights, and Tenleytown.
The mayor said that most protesters obeyed the curfew, which allowed police to focus on those who broke the rules. Newsham says that those who violate the curfew Monday and Tuesday "can anticipate that local police and federal police will take you into custody." There is a exception for essential workers, including media.
Tuesday marks D.C.'s primary election, with polls open until 8 p.m.—voting will be considered essential, and will not constitute a violation of curfew, per Bowser. However, some local Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners are calling on the mayor to move the start of Tuesday's curfew to 8:30 p.m. "We know that forcing residents to explain to law enforcement officers that they are allowed to be out after curfew because they are voting carries particular risks for communities of color and places a higher burden on essential and service employees who are still working for all of us during a public health emergency," write Evan Yeats and Erin Palmer, both of Ward 4, in a letter to Bowser.
Many businesses in the District, like the one pictured here in Mount Vernon Square, are boarding up in preparation for protests.
Under the order, all nonessential businesses in the District must close by 7 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, according to Bowser spokesperson Susana Castilo. Many businesses could be seen on Monday boarding up their windows and doors to guard against property damage.
Metro is also making scheduling changes to its already-reduced service "in the interest of public safety" on Monday, the transit agency announced. Metrorail will close one hour early, at 8 p.m., and bus service will be suspended throughout the system at 9 p.m., two hours early. On Sunday, the District Department of Transportation suspended Capital Bikeshare and city workers removed electric scooters from the streets. Bowser said on Monday that Department of Public Works employees and local business improvement districts were continuing to remove items like trash cans, which could serve as projectiles or sites of fires.
The D.C. National Guard was activated on Saturday. Newsham said that the guard largely assisted U.S. Park Police on Sunday, but will be coordinating more closely with MPD on Monday. The Department of Justice announced that Attorney General William Barr has deployed federal riot teams to D.C. and Miami, per USA Today.
On Sunday, D.C. police used tear gas and flash-bang grenades frequently on protesters and surrounded at least one large group of demonstrators, boxing them in. In one instance, a D.C. officer struck a CNN cameraman with a baton, according to on-air reports from the network, despite the cameraman holding a credential and a camera.
A Virginia House of Delegates representative posted a video showing the aftermath of experiencing tear gas in D.C. Ibraheem Samirah, a Democrat representing parts of Loudon and Fairfax, contends on Twitter that cops "instigated riots by firing into our peaceful crowd & charging towards us for no reason."
Newsham said that the police are committed to reviewing any allegations of officer misconduct, but declined to remark on any specific instances.
These demonstrations are happening amid the landscape of a pandemic, and the mayor is calling on people who attended the protests to get a COVID-19 test or self-isolate to prevent the spread of the virus.
The D.C. Council has rescheduled an oversight hearing for D.C. police that was initially slated for Monday. Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, who chairs the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, said the change was both to accommodate Newsham, who "will be engaged with monitoring First Amendment assemblies," and to allow for additional public testimony.
This story has been updated with additional information throughout.