What to Know
- Thirty-seven people were arrested for rioting and four were arrested for assault on a police officer
- Police cordoned off a large section of Adams Morgan for hours late Thursday and early Friday
- According to multiple accounts, the protest began peacefully Thursday night with about 50 people in Meridian Hill Park, commonly known as Malcolm X Park
D.C. police used pepper spray when arresting protesters in Adams Morgan Thursday night, according to the deputy mayor for public safety and justice.
“From what I understand, there was the deployment of pepper spray by officers as officers were in the process of making arrests," Deputy Mayor Kevin Donahue said.
The arrest tactics will be reviewed, he said.
“On Thursday night, we had, effectively, a few dozen individuals who engaged in a riot,” Donahue said. “We had at least 15 examples of private property that was defaced. We had at least five fires set.
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"We are very accustomed to First Amendment walks, spontaneous ones," he said. "We had one over the weekend without incident. This was not that. This was a group that seemed to police to be intent to set things on fire and destroy things.”
Thirty-seven people were arrested for rioting and four were arrested for assault on a police officer, Donahue said.
“We weren’t responding to a peaceful protest,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said. “We were responding to people who were being unpeaceful in protesting and demonstrating rioting behavior, and so that behavior will not be tolerated.”
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Police cordoned off a large section of Adams Morgan for hours late Thursday and early Friday and arrested 41 people. Two officers were injured.
"Police did effectively, tactically have officers that were on each side of the group in order to safely process the arrest," Donahue said.
A video shot by a protester shows Metropolitan Police Department officers pinning a man to the ground, and a man told News4 that officers used pepper spray on him.
Many of those arrested told News4 they were released Friday without being charged.
Police body camera video is being reviewed as part of the investigation, Donahue said.
According to multiple accounts, the protest began peacefully Thursday night with about 50 people in Meridian Hill Park, commonly known as Malcolm X Park. The group headed toward the Third District police station in the 1600 block of V Street NW and then to 18th and Willard streets NW.
Protesters told News4 they were speaking out against three 2018 confrontations with officers that resulted in men’s deaths. Police released body camera footage last week after the deaths of Marqueese Alston, Jeffrey Price and D’Quan Young.
Officers formed a perimeter around the protesters using a tactic called kettling while an area stretching as far south as Dupont Circle, lined with bars and restaurants, was shut down.
News4 footage shows officers standing behind police tape. Officers started putting protesters in handcuffs at about 12:30 a.m. Friday and took them away in vans.
“Let them go,” others chanted.
A video shot by a protester shows officers pinning a man to the ground.
“They got their knee on him,” a woman can be heard saying as several people stand in place with their cellphones up.
Another man later told News4 that officers used a spray on him.
In another tweet, police said there's a difference “between peaceful protestors & individuals destroying property or setting fires.”
Police say they recovered knives, fireworks and “chemical irritants” from the protesters and offenses that occurred included arson and property destruction.
D.C. Council member Charles Allen, chairman of the judiciary committee, questioned charging so many people with rioting.
“I think there are some real concerns about what our felony rioting provisions look like and how they end up getting applied, especially if there is a case where it’s getting applied where there is a peaceful protest," he said Friday on WAMU.
Police refused to respond to questions.