Church leaders at National City Christian Church on Thomas Circle in downtown D.C. erected 16-foot Black Lives Matter banners on Wednesday, the same day pro-Trump groups plan to rally against Congress certifying that Joe Biden won the November election.
"It seems like it’s important to use our platform to proclaim in this moment what we feel that our faith is compelling us to say, which is that we were reject violence and that we believe that Black lives matter, and that our faith compels us to say that," Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, interim senior minister of the church, said.
Last month, members of the Proud Boys in town for pro-Trump rallies claimed responsibility for tearing down and burning a Black Lives Matter sign.
National City Christian Church, adhering to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s call for people to stay out of downtown during the protests, will be closed on Wednesday.
"I think faith communities in this moment can be voices that call us to peace and justice. There’s no reason we should be in the streets committing violence toward one another. We’re only better when we build each other up," Butler said.
Numerous demonstrations were planned around D.C., from Freedom Plaza to the Ellipse, where President Trump says he’ll speak to supporters at the “Save America” rally.
There will also be demonstrations on the steps of the capitol. A group called the Silent Majority will hold a rally at noon on the National Mall.
"We're trying to ensure that we have a fair and accurate counting of the election. We've had kind of an unprecedented year with Covid and we've had tens of millions of mail-in ballots that went out. And I think it's left a lot of uncertainty to a lot of people in the country," James Epley, founder of The Silent Majority, said.
Street closures are already in effect, covering a wide area of downtown, and some businesses have boarded up.
D.C. police were planning a coordinated effort to keep the city safe. The National Guard will help manage crowds and traffic.