The protesters chanted "f**k your curfew" minutes before the curfew was expected to take effect at 7 p.m. local time. Protesters also chanted "This is what democracy looks like" while holding up signs reading "Black Lives Matter" and "Defund the police."
Protesters converged in the very same spot that the National Guard, the US Park Police and the Secret Service aggressively dispersed people peacefully protesting the brutal police murder of unarmed African-American man George Floyd last week. Protesters were dispersed violently Monday night so that US President Donald Trump could take a photo in front of the historic St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, DC.
Black hawk helicopters were also seen whirring over DC on Tuesday night while the National Guard was also seen congregating in DC.
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Despite hundreds of people sustaining injuries Monday night, Trump tweeted several minutes after curfew went into effect Tuesday that "Washington, D.C., was the safest place on earth last night!"
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A fence separated the protesters from Secret Service officers, who were seen quickly tightening the metal rods holding the fence together. Despite the fact that the curfew went into effect at 7 p.m local time, voting in the DC primary will continue for another hour until 8 p.m. EST. DC protesters who didn't want to break the curfew were encouraged to bang pots and pans out their windows in solidarity. One hour after the curfew, there were still thousands of people in the streets with many heading toward the Lincoln Memoral.
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US Police Violently Disperse Protesters Monday Night
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Tuesday demanded a congressional probe into the “grossly unjustified” use of violence against peaceful protesters on Monday night.
“This appears to be grossly unjustified use of a chemical weapon on protesters and raises serious human rights concerns under international law. Elected officials, including Congress, must investigate this politically-motivated, life-threatening use of indiscriminate weapons,” the ACLU tweeted Tuesday morning.
Two Sputnik journalists, Nicole Roussell and Sean Blackmon, were subjected to the violence on Monday night. Roussell also sustained injuries despite telling officers multiple times that she was part of the press.
“I was shot, exactly right, seven times, with stinger grenades, with rubber bullets. We were all shot with tear gas. I was one of many press who were [in front] of the White House covering these huge, peaceful protests … hundreds of police at one point, from various different police agencies, rushed the crowd, starting shooting projectiles at the crowd … the police were yelling 'Move Back,'" Roussell told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker's on Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Tuesday.
Blackmon was also subjected to flash-bang grenades, tear gas and pepper spray, even though he was wearing his Sputnik credentials, which include a bright orange logo.
"I had a flash-bang grenade go off near my foot, lots of tear gas, lots of pepper spray, there were a few different chemicals in the air. It seems as though some of the pellets - some of the projectiles they were shooting - actually contained some kind of gas as well. So, there was a whole array of dispersal tactics and repressive tactics that the police were using against demonstrators and press. They made no distinction and my press credentials didn’t exempt me from any of that as the night went on," Blackmon explained.
"I would describe the tear gas and the pepper spray - if you can imagine like a firecracker in your throat, what that might feel like and the sensation that would cause in your body - that’s pretty close to what I felt," he added.
Blackmon also described how DC residents who were trying to provide refuge to protesters in their homes were also being targeted by police.
"Protesters and media were pushed from the White House area all the way to another part of Northwest DC - like far away - and the police actually trapped people in on a street and starting gassing them and homeowners on that street … out of the kindness of their hearts, they took people into their house and helped, you know, basically [gave] them refuge until the curfew lifted this morning at I think 6 a.m. [local time] and the police were firing at them just for taking them in and banging at the doors," Blackmon added.
Roussell and Blackmon also explained that the responses to the protests have essentially been the same from Democratic and Republican leaders.
"The liberals in this country have done absolutely nothing. They’ve basically been agreeing with Trump in terms of his orientation to the protest. [2020 Democratic presidential candidate former US Vice President] Joe Biden has been absent except in recent days, where he’s been trying to opportunistically insert himself into these protests to try to portray himself as a counter to Trump," Blackmon noted.
"This isn’t specific to one party. This isn’t specific to one area. This isn’t specific to one region. This is the current political class ... They’re the wealthy, they’re the ones who are ruling this country and ruling these cities and both parties are engaging in this exact kind of thing," Roussell agreed.