Protesters gather in front of the White House Sunday. Feb. 20, in support of the Ukraine.
Protesters gather in front of the White House Sunday. Feb. 20, in support of the Ukraine amid Russian aggression. Credit: Ambar Castillo

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Two people died in an apartment building fire in Southwest D.C. early this morning. D.C. Fire and EMS reported at 10 a.m. that the deceased man and woman were pulled from the two-alarm fire in the 300 block of G Street SW. The blaze brought about 100 firefighters to the scene, who put out the fire within 15 minutes. But 40 apartment units on the third floor were left “uninhabitable,”  according to D.C. FEMS spokesperson Vito Maggiolo

First-responders will return ​​to the scene at 1:30 p.m. for “Back to the Fire,” an outreach effort to distribute fire prevention pamphlets, test smoke alarms in the building, and replace the alarms if they’re broken.

Metro “Blueface”-Hacked

The long weekend ended with warmer weather yesterday and lighter transit news than D.C. has seen in a hot minute. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Agency got its Twitter accounts back after “Blueface Da Bus,” a cyberhacker with tween humor, took over @WMATA and @Metrorailinfo yesterday. The hacker’s joke tweets ranged from “beep beep its a bus” to “heyu itss me hen” and “anyone here have boobs lol.”

“We [sic] aware that Metro’s Twitter accounts @WMATA @MetrorailInfo were hacked and obscene posts were made that do not represent Metro’s organization or culture,” said a D.C. Metro representative in a statement to WJLA. “The posts will be removed, and our account will be secured. We are working to understand who may be responsible for this breach.”

Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak called it yet another sign that Metro can’t do anything right—even get hacked. Metro’s performance oversight hearing is set for today from 12 to 6 p.m. 

A Rally to Support Ukraine Amid Russian Aggression

Hundreds of advocates rallied in front of the White House on Sunday to call for greater U.S. support of Ukraine as the likelihood of a full-scale Russian invasion reached an all-time high. Wrapped in Ukrainian flags, wearing traditional clothing, and holding signs that read “Ukraine We Stand With You” and “Putin Keep Your Bloody Hands Off Ukraine,” activists of Ukrainian descent and the allied community showed up to chant and sing in solidarity. 

By Monday evening, Putin had ordered troops into two separatist regions of eastern Ukraine after publicly recognizing the regions’ independence. President Joe Biden called the movement an invasion and signaled that his administration would issue “significant sanctions” on Russia. 

Calls for U.S. support included supplying Ukrainians with weapons and enacting sanctions on Russia before it further invades Ukraine. As some activists pointed out, Russia already invaded parts of Ukraine in 2014 when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and backed separatist forces to battle Ukrainian troops in eastern Ukraine.   

“I feel like media has failed to report that they’ve been in this war since 2014, so this isn’t something that’s new; it’s ongoing aggression,” Laura Daniel of Southeast D.C. tells City Paper. Daniel came to the rally alongside two fellow Peace Corps volunteers who also served in Ukraine before moving to the District. 

“Missiles are what they need to defend themselves … air defense,” says Griffin Bouwens of Capitol Hill, one of the other former Peace Corps volunteers. “They don’t have a chance against Russia’s military without our support.”

Some critics of calls for sanctions before Russia further invades have argued that the U.S. and others would lose their leverage to deter Putin if they act prematurely. But many protesters disagreed. 

“Are we gonna wait until thousands of people die?” asks Maryna Prykhodko of New York, citing the need to cut Russia from the Swift international payments system, closing down Putin and his cronies’ international accounts. “Right now Putin has free rein, because he feels that nothing can touch him.” 

Other protesters were concerned that history may repeat itself. 

“Seventy-five years ago, my parents came to this country … fleeing Russian aggression,” Andrew Fylypovych of Philadelphia says. “75 years later, I’m demonstrating here because my relatives in Ukraine are facing exactly the same threat that they faced during World War II.”

D.C. Prepares for a Truckers’ Rally in D.C.

In a separate protest near the White House, trucker convoys may soon rally about concerns closer to home. D.C. police are set to deploy up to 500 civil disturbance units per day to prepare for what could cause major blockades on the Capital Beltway starting Wednesday.

The People’s Convoy, a major organizing group, plans to arrive after the State of the Union address on March 1. Another main organizer, Scranton-based trucking company owner Bob Bolus, has said his convoy will start Wednesday morning. He said the group is protesting issues that include vaccine mandates, trucker rights, a rise in fuel prices and taxes, and critical race theory.

“We’re not coming there just to starve them,” Bolus told WUSA9.  “We’re going to choke you like a boa constrictor, and you’ll have nothing.” 

Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that she would not prematurely urge District residents to take precautions or stay home. 

“We’re not at a point to give specific instructions to residents as yet, but we will,” Bowser said.

Ambar Castillo (tips?

  • To see today’s COVID-19 data, visit our coronavirus tracker.
  • Red Lines are operating every 10 minutes starting today. [WTOP]
  • Howard University got a $2 million grant to digitize its archives of Black newspapers that date back to the 1970s and contain more than 2,000 titles. [WTOP
  • Z-Burger in Tenleytown is offering 2-cent burgers today in honor of “Twosday,” AKA 2/22/22. Hurry! The deal is only good from 11:22 a.m. to 2:22 p.m. [WUSA9]
  • Almost half of D.C. residents aren’t down with the Washington Commanders’ new name. [Post]

By Ambar Castillo (tips?

  • New legislation spearheaded by Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto would allow for “mobile voting” from computers, phones and tablets. Election security researchers generally oppose the effort, but it has support from some powerful interests: chiefly, Mike Bloomberg’s former campaign manager, Bradley Tusk, and his main lobbyist, Max Brown. [DCist, Twitter]
  • Building Blocks DC, once touted as Mayor Bowser’s top initiative to combat gun violence, is getting a restructuring amid concerns about its direction. [Post]
  • Del McFadden, director of the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement is resigning. ONSE is a key agency in D.C.’s violence reduction efforts. [WJLA]
  • Though the restaurant industry has been generally reticent to mount another battle against the elimination of the tipped minimum wage, some prominent figures (headed by Geoff Tracy of Chef Geoff’s fame) are raising money to oppose Initiative 82. [Twitter]

By Alex Koma (tips?

Credit: Leading DC

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  • Magpie and the Tiger opens for dine-in service in Petworth. [DC Eater]
  • Cities across the country, including D.C., lift their vaccine mandates. [Eater]

By Laura Hayes (tips?

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  • Getting lit: Studio Theatre will light its brand new entrance sign along 14th Street NW tonight. [WTOP]
  • BTW, I’m on a panel tonight that kicks off Day Eight’s arts journalism conference, The Crisis in Book Review. [Eventbrite]

By Sarah Marloff (tips?

  • UDC renamed its athletic facility in honor of Dr. Edwin Bancroft Henderson, a D.C. native who is credited with introducing basketball to Black youth in the city in the early 1900s.  [WTOP]
  • There haven’t been any significant breakthroughs between MLB owners and player representatives as the league remains in a lockout. According to MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, the final sticking point in negotiations is likely disagreements over the competitive balance (or luxury) tax. [MASN]
  • T.J. Oshie, Anthony Mantha, Justin Schulz, and Vitek Vanecek all returned from injury and were back on the ice yesterday with the Capitals for practice. [NBC Sports Washington]

By Kelyn Soong (tips?

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