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Protesters with Black Lives Matter D.C. and Black Youth Project 100 arrived outside the Fraternal Order of Police’s building Wednesday at 7 a.m. and didn’t budge for more than 16 hours. The protest effectively shut down the union’s building, located on 4th Street NW near Massachusetts Avenue.
Approximately 20 people stood in the 4th Street crosswalk, as police officers stopped traffic. The protesters held signs with slogans like “Asian Silence Is Violence” and “Stop Killing Our Black Family, Friends, Neighbors.” Some protesters chained themselves to fences and ladders.
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Clarise McCants, 24, is youth coordinator with Black Youth Project 100 who helped organize the protest. When City Desk spoke with her, McCants had been holding her position for eight hours. “A lot of folks have come up expressing support… understanding the core issue here is that we really need to value black lives,” McCants said, adding that others had not been supportive.
“I think we really accomplished our goal here today, which was to make sure that there is going to be no legislation born on this day that criminalizes black people or protects murderous cops,” she said, referencing her belief that FOP funds and supports laws that are beneficial for police but not for communities. She called the FOP the “No. 1 hindrance to the solutions that we need to be safe in our communities.”
At-Large Councilmember David Grosso and nine other members recently introduced a resolution in support of police reform, which the FOP condemned in a statement. “We have officers leaving in droves to seek employment with other agencies for a host of reasons. Chief among them, our members do not feel supported by their own city council,” Chairman Matthew Mahl wrote. “This resolution furthers this divide and will push more members out the door. This in turn will create a very dangerous situation for our city, its residents and visitors. It is our position that the council’s resolution will result in further division between our members and their city.”
April Goggans, 36, is an organizer with Black Lives Matter D.C. and the founder of Keep D.C. 4 Me, which works to find solutions to intra-community violence in Southeast. “It’s been a long day, but it feels really great,” said Goggans, who arrived at 7 a.m.
Goggans, who has participated in approximately 15 protests with the Black Lives Matter movement and has lived in D.C. for 10 years, said she wants to encourage individuals to realize “that silence is not only violence but compliance.” She also wants to bring attention to “the roles that the FOP plays in protecting cops after they murder black people and also their dangerous advocacy around pushing bills, laws, [and] initiatives that provide more protections for police criminality.”
At 6:30 p.m., the protesters still stood in front of the building and along the crosswalk, blocking the road. They said they would not leave so long as they could hold the space. They left of their own volition around midnight.