About 30 people marched from Chinatown to outside the Corcoran’s 17th Street building Tuesday protesting against police brutality, one day after Baltimore erupted in riots.
The group said they were marching in support of Freddie Gray, a 25-year old black man who died after his spine was severed following an arrest by Baltimore Police Department officers on April 19. Chanting phrases like “black lives matter,” the protestors stood and sat in the middle of major intersections across the city.
The group of protestors – escorted down the streets by members of the Metropolitan Police Department – started in front of the Chinatown Metro station, first standing and blocking the intersection of G and 7th Streets. As members of the group walked from 7th Street to Pennsylvania Avenue, some protestors used megaphones to address bystanders, asking them to join the protest.
Erin Agnew, a sophomore who sat on the ground in the middle of the intersection of 15th Street and New York Avenue with other protesters, said that the protest group was acting in solidarity with the “black lives matter” movement that started in Ferguson, Mo. after Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, was shot and killed by a police officer in August. In November, a grand jury ruled not to indict the officer in that incident.
The D.C. protestors remained peaceful throughout the night.
“Personally, it’s about garnering positive media attention and understanding that there are peaceful movements that are being falsely portrayed as violent,” Agnew said.
The protestors stopped twice in front of the White House and blocked traffic, once on the 15th Street side and once on the 16th Street side. The Secret Service had already partitioned off the area in front of the White House, following a reception Tuesday to welcome Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe.
Bria Gibson, a 21-year-old who lives in Maryland and works in D.C., said the group that consisted of people of different races who wanted to show a peaceful protest and “shut down police brutality.”
“Yes, we’re sitting down here right now but we’re here for a purpose,” Gibson said. “And that purpose is to show people around the world that we are not going to take anything laying down.”
The protestors then marched down 16th Street, yelling things like “This is a protest, not a riot,” to the Secret Service agents who walked beside them as they passed the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
Tia Correy, one of the people leading the protest with a megaphone, told the group that even though her grandfather is white, she is still “automatically targeted” by police because she is black. Still, Correy said the group needed to remain peaceful.
“They want you to get mad, because they want you to say that they had to have all those police come out,” Correy said to the other protesters. “But we’re not going to be like that.”