On Wednesday, for the first time in 232 years with the inauguration of George Washington, the ascension to power in the U.S. turned violent as hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters stormed the nation’s Capitol, destroying property, causing injuries and inciting fear.
It would take a call to arms of Capitol Police and several other local law enforcement agencies before peace would be restored and the Capitol reclaimed. But one woman, shot by an unidentified shooter as the Capitol was breached, would die several hours later. It has not been announced whether the fatal bullet came from a protestor or police.
But local officials in Maryland and Virginia sent close to 1,000 additional police officers to assist officers already fighting to restore peace in the District.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) imposed a citywide curfew from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday, prohibiting people, other than essential workers and members of the media, from driving, walking, loitering and conducting other activities in the streets. Metro also shut down service several hours early at 8 p.m. in response to the violence unfolding on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.
In advance of this week’s protests, the mayor also petitioned the Department of Defense (DOD) to authorize the D.C. National Guard’s protection of the U.S. Capitol. Reports later surfaced that DOD denied that request, which Bowser countered during a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
A Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) spokesperson also confirmed just after the curfew began Wednesday, that on the previous evening, Jan. 5, 10 people were arrested after inciting violence on Black Lives Matter Plaza.
While MPD officers had initially been stationed blocks away from the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, they were later dispatched to assist Capitol police officers and establish a perimeter shortly after Trump supporters breached security. MPD Chief Robert Contee said at least five firearms have been recovered. As of Wednesday evening, authorities arrested at least 13 people, none of whom are District residents.
Bowser and Contee declined to provide specifics about policing tactics but Bowser acknowledged the Maryland and Virginia State Police, along with the police departments of surrounding Montgomery, Prince George’s and Arlington counties as partners in efforts to quell rioting on the Capitol grounds.
“The behavior we’re witnessing is shameful, unpatriotic and unlawful,” she said during the press conference. “Anyone who continues to engage in these activities will be held accountable. There will be law and order. MPD has been deployed to help restore order.”
More than a week before Trump supporters converged on the nation’s capital, a bevy of grassroots organizations, including Black Lives Matter DC (BLM DC) and ShutDownDC, issued warnings to District officials about the impending violence.
BLM DC released a statement demanding that Bowser designate the District as a hate-free city. The group also urged local establishments to not conduct business with the visitors, and requested that city officials prioritize the protection of Black spaces and adherence of COVID-19-related protocols.
The degree to which Bowser and MPD have been able to do that remains questionable, BLM DC Core Organizer Anthony Lorezno Green told The Informer, especially after The Proud Boys and others incited violence against Black people twice before.
“We saw a complete denunciation of white supremacy among residents, ANC commissioners and other community leaders,” Green said. “This is why we wanted District officials to lock down the city in a way that didn’t oppress us and stopped us from enjoying it under the spotlight of a Congress that doesn’t give a damn about our freedom.”
“[We wanted them] to push out these white supremacists the same way they tried to push Black and brown folks off of Black Lives Matter Plaza for months and Georgia Avenue after MPD killed Karon Hylton-Brown. They failed for the third time,” he said.