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‘It’s unnecessary’: DC protesters angered by cut off protest zone near White House

  • June 03, 2020

A new day of protests in D.C. started in near the White House, the scene of six days of demonstrations following the death of a black man in Minneapolis police custody. 

Wednesday got started with law enforcement officers cutting off the main protest area, near Lafayette Park and the White House. 

Cutting down the protest zone did not sit well with demonstrators who said that the authorities – particularly President Donald Trump – simply want to shut them down.

“It’s like they want to remove us permanently – they want us to go,” said Selah Squalls, 19, of Alexandria, Va., a student at Jackson State University in Mississippi.

More:DC mayor says using force on protesters outside White House before curfew is ‘shameful’

“It’s crazy, it’s abusive, it represents injustice to me – it represents unfairness,” she said.

Squalls, who said she has been at the site throughout the week, said protesters were very near the White House on Friday … got pushed back into Lafayette Park the next day … then got pushed beyond the park earlier this week.

Now, she noted, they have been moved north on 16th Street beyond St. John’s Church.

“I’m sure tomorrow we’ll be pushed back even more,” said Squalls, who attended the demonstration with her mother: Lawanda Squalls, 48, Alexandria, Va., a Washington, D.C. employee.

Neither mother nor daughter blames law enforcement for the new restrictions – they blamed someone else.

“It’s not what they want to do – it’s what Trump wants to do,” said Lawanda Squalls. “He wants this.”

Rev. Susan Wilder of Kirkwood Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Va., prays at the police line, with a Bureau of Prisons Special Operations Response Team member, as demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Wednesday, June 3, 2020, near the White House in Washington.

Antonio Jenkins, 26, a caregiver who lives in Washington, D.C., said he was attending his first demonstration and was disappointed he couldn’t get close to the White House. He said he understood the need for security, but it feels like the government just wants to shut down the protests.

“I feel like it violates our civil rights,” Jenkins said. “It could be a necessary thing, because it is the White House … But they’re just doing it because it’s a protest.”

“It’s unnecessary,” he said.

Jenkins said he doesn’t care about Trump, and doesn’t think Trump cares about him.

“It’s just a mess,’ Jenkins said. “This is a people’s protest.”

A couple of blocks from the White House, a man stood just feet from a line of military police in riot gear and angrily confronted a black officer. “You’re one of them,” he screamed as the officer looked on stoically.

But, “you take that uniform off, you’re one of us,” he said. “You’re black.”

More:‘I am outraged’: DC bishop denounces Trump’s church visit after police clear protesters with tear gas

One man, wearing a mask, yelled at military police officers standing in a line to block part of the roadway. The unidentified man asked the officers if they could imagine standing still for nine minutes as somebody in custody died, a reference to the death of George Floyd. 

Floyd died on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer pinned Floyd’s neck down with his knee for nearly nine minutes as he was handcuffed and crying he couldn’t breathe. 

He was unresponsive by the time medical personnel arrived at the scene. Police said they were responding to a report of a forgery in progress.

“Four people stood there and watched that man die and made sure that no one helped him while that murdering bastard squeezed the lift out of him. Can you stand there and watch that for nine minutes?” the man asked the officers. 

The same man told the officers he was “trying to appeal to your heart, your humanity.” 

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