District Line Daily: Protest Prep

Washington City Paper-2 months before

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With only one day before Election Day, everyone is preparing for demonstrations. Protesters. Police. Businesses. 

There are at least two demonstrations planned for Tuesday, Nov. 3: the People’s Watch Party and ShutDownDC.

The People’s Watch Party, planned by over 20 progressive activists and grassroots organizations, is starting at 9 p.m. at Black Lives Matter Plaza. Organizers are encouraging people to bring a mask and a sign. The local group behind past protests, ShutDownDC, is inviting people to show up at Black Lives Matter Plaza at 4 p.m. There will be a Jumbotron for election results, as well as performances from go-go groups and dance troupes. 

past protests inviting people It’s likely many are feeling on edge. Police Chief Peter Newsham said in a recent press conference that officials are not aware of any credible threats of violence related to Election Day. The city’s Emergency Operation Center will be activated, so residents are encouraged to sign up for alerts online. Mayor Muriel Bowser has not requested any assistance from the National Guard, but she says “they are on alert should we need to change that posture.”

Some are concerned about how law enforcement will respond to the inevitable protests. In a letter to Newsham, the ACLU-DC underscored local laws that protect individuals who go out and protest: The First Amendment Assemblies Act requires police to issue a dispersal order should they decide to break up a crowd, and the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Second Emergency Amendment Act bans the use of chemical irritants, rubber bullets, and stun grenades against protesters. The letter also reminds Newsham that protesters have the right to “humane conditions of confinement” should they be arrested; and that police are not allowed to search protesters’ cell phones without a warrant nor can they indefinitely keep them should their phones be confiscated.

In a letter to Newsham There are over a dozen law enforcement agencies in D.C., most of which are federal. There is trepidation that federal law enforcement will use excessive force on protests. (Reminder: MPD officers are required by law to identify themselves by way of their uniforms and helmets during protests, so look for the logo.) Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, for one, is worried about that given what happened over the summer

most of which are federal. required by law given what happened over the summer “The federalization that we are going to potentially see is very concerning,” said Allen on the Kojo Nnamdi Show. “We have to prepare for many contingencies. But there is a lot of really hard work and thought going into that to be prepared as the nation’s capital going into this.” 

on the Kojo Nnamdi Show The police chief expects civil unrest regardless of who wins the presidential race. The District has already spent “$100,000 on less-lethal munitions and chemical irritants for riot control,” according to the Post. Businesses all around D.C., meanwhile, have boarded up their windows. City officials have not received any intelligence suggesting they should do this, per the Post. Instead, officials are advising businesses to keep insurance on hand and to sign up for alerts.

according have boarded up their windows —Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com

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