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Jul 6, 22

Black Bloc Takes to DC Streets on July 4th

Report from Wayward Streamer on march in Washington DC on July 4th in opposition to the recent Supreme Court ruling and the police murder of Jayland Walker.

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On Monday, July 4th, 2022, as tourists flooded the nation’s capitol to watch the fireworks, a group of individuals gathered around 8:00 PM to march to express disdain with the celebrations. There were roughly 100 people, including people just walking through the neighborhood. The crowd expressed concerns about violations of bodily autonomy, police killings, and a corrupt system of government. Immediately after a brief speech and a few warm-up chants the Bloc exited the park and headed in the direction of the Supreme Court and the United States Capitol Building. The banner that led the march was white with black letters that read, “Corrupt Courts & Killer Cops, Burn IT DOWN.” After a few blocks, the crowd took a small water break.

After this brief break and a speaker, the crowd tried to continue marching down Constitution Ave but was cut off by a line of bike cops. There was no clear order from the police as to where the crowd should go. After a minute of stand-off, Capitol Police rushed one of the flanks, ripping one umbrella from a demonstrator. Another bike cop flung his bike into the crowd hitting at least one more demonstrator. The group stood their ground, and no one was arrested. The crowd moved like water and was able to flank around law enforcement and continue their movement in the original intended direction for about another half block.

When the crowd reached one of the exit areas for the Capitol grounds across from the Capitol Building, Capitol Police rushed their officers into the crowd. These officers physically started pushing everyone into upper Senate Park. Reports from individuals include having a motorcycle ran into the banner; being pushed down to the ground; people being hit with bicycles. I had an officer swipe my phone out of my hand onto the ground. I recovered as the line was rapidly being pushed north away from the National Mall.

At some point I over heard one officer say “the lady in green, she has been with them since the beginning.” The police kept an eye on them for the remainder of the night.

Upon exiting the upper Senate Park, Capitol Police followed for a few blocks before Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) took over. During the last few blocks with Capitol Police, I noticed one of the Civil Disturbance Unit officers carrying a large neon bag – last time we saw this, law enforcement was carrying the MK-46h pepper spray extinguisher in the bag. They never deployed any chemicals onto the crowd, but law enforcement appeared prepared to deploy chemicals if they deemed it necessary.

The march continued westbound down Indiana Ave NW, passing Judiciary Square, the location of all DC courts and central booking. Chants of “abort the court” and anger with the Supreme Court decisions relating to bodily autonomy were heard as the march continued in the direction of tourists gathering on the National Mall. Chants in solidarity with Akron, Ohio, and the murder of Jayland Walker could also be heard as people passed by. The protest reached Pennsylvania Ave NW while some of the tourists began heading away from the National Mall after the conclusion of the fireworks show.

As the march arrived about a block from the former Trump International Hotel (now the Waldorf Astoria), the march took another hydration break. During this time, several flags were set ablaze with the Capitol Building in the background.

Upon the final flag being waved over the flames, a unknown bystander came barreling in from the sidewalk and snatched it from an individual’s hands. Lt. Bagshaw and other MPD officers rushed in within seconds and escorted the person away from the crowd. The march continued on toward the west, and MPD brought out a handheld fire extinguisher and extinguished the flames.

As the March made its way through the heart of the District, chants about abortion rights and Jayland Walker were repeated. Police stayed within two rows of bike cops on the outer edge of the march, staying about one to three feet from the crowd. This law enforcement tactic forces the group in a singular direction. The march continued north until it reached K Street NW where it turned westbound and made its way into Franklin Park.

Franklin Park has a long history in the District. Many unhoused communities used to live and exist here, but over the last ten years, the city has pushed away unhoused communities from downtown areas, including Franklin Park. There was not much activity in the park as a crowd gathered in the center. The group took a moment of silence before chanting, “We keep us safe.” Lt. Bagshaw mocked the crowd as he walked away, heard in person and on camera uttering, “We [the police] keep you safe. Lt. Bagshaw is part of the same police department that attacked protestors and demonstrators in downtown DC while Proud Boys had free reign in the city. Someone from the march thanked everyone for coming, and everyone split up into groups and dispersed.

I was proud to see the size of the crowd that showed up on for this march. It was a hardened crowd who was prepared for a diversity of options. They handled themselves well under pressure when faced with assault and violence. Everyone made sure no one was alone during evening actions. The group stayed together well, and the umbrella line was solid and effective. Until next time, waywardstreamer.

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