DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a 7 p.m. citywide curfew for the District in a press conference today. The curfew will go into effect this evening until the morning, and will be implemented again Tuesday night at 7.
Members of the media and essential workers are exempt from this curfew. MPD Police Chief Peter Newsham said individuals out after 7 p.m. tonight who are not media or essential workers “can be expected to be taken into custody. That is a warning.” Individuals who cross state lines to come into the District are still subject to this curfew.
Yesterday, Bowser implemented an 11 p.m. curfew for the city. She said she’s moving up tonight’s curfew because MPD officers reported yesterday’s demonstrations began to escalate around 7 p.m. Before 7 p.m., Newsham said yesterday’s protests were mostly peaceful, and any skirmishes were limited and manageable. Bowser noted the majority of attendees followed yesterday’s 11 p.m. curfew, which made it more manageable for MPD officers to focus on individuals “intent on destruction.”
Most of last night’s looting focused on the downtown area near the White House and the Golden Triangle area, but Newsham said property destruction extended into parts of Northeast DC, upper Northwest DC, and Georgetown. There was a fairly significant fire in St. John’s Episcopal church near the White House, but it was contained to what appeared to be a nursery area in the church basement. The AFL-CIO building also had fires, but Bowser says damage did not appear to extend past the lobby. There were reports of the sound of gunshots in Georgetown and shell cases were recovered; Newsham says no injuries are apparent. Mayor Bowser encouraged individuals who live or work in the downtown area to move their cars to limit “sitting targets for people.”
“We applaud the American spirit of protest and protest to their federal government,” Bowser said. “However, we do not allow the continued destruction of our hometown….Smashed windows and looting are becoming a bigger story than the broken systems that got us here.”
Newsham reports MPD made 88 arrests yesterday. Two thirds of those individuals are being charged with instances of felonies, 44 with felony rioting, and a number were arrested for violating curfew. Nine MPD vehicles were damaged, and seven MPD officers were injured – none required a hospital visit.
DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management is working on identifying social media accounts intent on spreading disinformation to curb the spread of false reports – an issue a number of people saw on Twitter last night. There was a report circulating last night that DC experienced a communication outage. Newsham says those claims are false.
Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said the DC Department of Health does not support mass gatherings of any kind at this time. Though she said most protestors were wearing face masks, “face masks are not a replacement for an inability to social distance.” She and Mayor Bowser are very concerned about the potential of a Covid-19 spike from these demonstrations.