Thousands of protesters took to Washington, DC, for the city's largest demonstration yet over George Floyd's death
Thousands of protesters marched through Washington, DC, on Saturday. They demanded justice in the wake of George Floyd's killing in police custody on March 25, and the death of Breonna Taylor,who was killed on March 13 after police raided her apartment and shot her to death. Similar demonstrations are happening this weekend in dozens of cities across the country amid nearly two weeks of nationwide civil unrest. Protesters told Insider they were there to show support for the Black community and denounce police brutality. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Washingtonians fanned out across the nation's capital to protest on Saturday, taking over landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial and surrounding the White House as police blocked most of the major roads leading downtown. Demonstrations have broken out in dozens of cities across the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who was killed after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The deaths of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician who was killed by Louisville police after they raided her apartment during a raid and shot her several times. As hundreds of marchers streamed toward the Capitol in 90-degree heat, volunteers handed out water bottles, snacks, and masks. Dozens of protesters stood on the steps of a Senate office building named for the Georgia segregationist Richard Russell, holding signs aloft that declared that "Black Lives Matter" and demanding justice — now. Sharon Goolsby, her daughter Shala Goolsby, and Shala's teenage daughter Laila stood on the steps of the Russell Senate Office Building, representing three generations of their family whose history or protest stretched back to the Civil Rights Era. "I protested in the '60s when I was ten," said Sharon Goolsby, who wanted her granddaughter, Laila, to have the same experience. "Social justice is in our blood." "I think it's just important to come out here and protest," Laila told Insider. "I just don't want to be scared to go outside because of the color of my skin." A few feet away, thousands of masked protesters marched down Constitution Avenue in the direction of the National Mall. Here's how the protests unfolded in Washington, DC, throughout Saturday:Protesters marched peacefully down the newly renamed Black Lives Matter plaza in front of the White House, chanting slogans like, "No justice, no peace," "Black Lives Matter," and, "Whose streets? Our streets."
One protester climbed up on a streetlight and sat just beneath a new street sign for Black Lives Matter Plaza.
Chris Moore, a 26-year-old Maryland resident, said he hoped that the protests would result in concrete police reforms. "I know people just throw out defunding the police," he said, "but if we defund want to make sure that those funds that are taken away go into community projects. More after school programs," he said.
Many of the protesters have been attending demonstrations all week — 50-year-old Amos Tevelow said he had attended DC protests for six or seven days straight. "It's a very hopeful moment," he said. "You start with ending police brutality and you work your way up the chain from there."
Protesters told Insider they wanted to show allyship with the black community. "I think we need to stop being silent — we're here to use our voice," said 23-year-old Melanie Herrera.
Demonstrators said they wanted to see extensive police reform in the wake of Floyd's death — many advocated for defunding police departments.
Courtney Dixon, center: "I'm a public defender, so basically all I do is represent people who are just thrown through the system, predominantly people of color, Black, brown people. What happened to George Floyd happens everyday. It's just not all filmed, it's just not all on TV."
Saturday's protests featured lots of music and dancing
A number of frontline healthcare workers and medical students also showed up to protest — they wore scrubs and face masks and carried signs saying, "White coats for black lives."
Thousands of protester gathered and marched along 16th Street towards the White House. DC's mayor renamed the thoroughfare Black Lives Matter Plaza this week and painted the words in large yellow letters across the road.
Chants of "George Floyd" and "Breonna Taylor" broke out as protesters marched.
Volunteers provided lots of free water, snacks, and face masks to help keep the crowds safe.
Two signs ask DC mayor Muriel Bowser to do more to halt gentrification in the city, which has long displaced Black Washingtonians.
Though police and National Guard troops had a heavy presence in previous protests, leading to several violent clashes with protesters earlier in the week, they weren't as visible on Saturday.
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