This morning at sunrise, protesters marched up 16th Street, Northwest, and landed in front of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Colonial Village home. The demonstration, in response to yesterday’s police shooting in Congress Heights, delivered a clear message to Bowser: Fire DC police chief Peter Newsham.
The protest, put on by climate justice organization Sunrise Movement DC, also called for Bowser to defund DC’s police department and reallocate its police funding to community services. About two dozen people marched with tambourines, megaphones, and noise makers. At the house, a line of police officers and security detail were stationed out front as protestors chanted “no justice, no sleep” and Deon Kay’s name.
Natacia Knapper, an organizer from Stop Police Terror Project DC, called into a megaphone asking Bowser to live up to the message she painted near the front of the White House in May.
“It is absolutely disgusting that she painted ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the street as a dishonest solidarity act—she has been fighting with Black Lives Matter the entire time I have known her to be in office,” Knapper said to the crowd. “She’s pretty much given permission for these murderous slave catchers to attack my Black brothers, sisters, cousins, and I am over it.”
Between the outbursts of noise, the protest’s mood was somber and contemplative. Sunrise Movement organizer Aura Angélica read the names of the four Black men who have been killed by DC police during Newsham’s tenure: D’Quan Young, Marqueese Alston, Jeffrey Price, and now, Deon Kay. Fellow organizer Naeem Alam led the crowd in a rendition of the protest song “Which Side Are You On,” and another read the Junauda Petrus poem “Give The Police Departments to the Grandmothers.”
“A life gets stolen a long time before someone gets killed,” said organizer John Henry Williams in a speech. “When no one has the educational opportunities they need to become the person they can. When people don’t have that health care, the job. When there is no way out of the hole that you dug them. Meanwhile, paying for billions and billions of dollars to the police department. You sold that life long before you killed them.”
Details are still coming out about yesterday’s shooting, and body-worn camera footage was released today. Protesters, including members of Kay’s family, also gathered last night in front of the Seventh District Police Precinct.
“What I know is that our officer was trying to take guns off the street and what I know is that he encountered someone with a gun,” Mayor Bowser said in a press conference this morning. She added that she has “nothing to say” to protesters calling for Newsham’s firing.
We’ll keep this post updated.