On New Year’s Day 2015, civil rights activists held a die-in at Wheaton Plaza protesting the continuing police violence and murder against African-Americans. Police have shot two DC residents just in the past couple weeks, and have even shot at protesters in Ferguson. Black lives still matter, and until the cops get that straight organizers warn these protests can pop up anytime, anywhere.
As protesters marched out of Wheaton Plaza after the conclusion of the die-in, the march passed the stairs leading from outside to the second level of the plaza. It was filled with cops in what could have been an ambush position, or standing ready to assist security guards if they suddenly decided to assault the protesters for any reason.
Speaking of cops, there are ugly reports that came out on Twitter of activists being arrested by snatch squads after actions were over. One appears to have been for filming police brutality in PG County, the other was near Wheaton Plaza. The only time I even saw cops was when the march passed that stairwell exiting the plaza, and lots of people had left the dispersal site before I did. On the other hand, that area has wide open spaces and not a lot of cover for people to disappear into, making it a dangerous place for a dispersal as police in cars and bikes have too big an advantage in paved open space.
There were also issues with Wheaton Plaza security guards harassing multiple independent journalists demanding to see ID’s issued by corporate media outfits. When challenged I refused and declared that I was part of the protest, which up to that point Mall security has appeared to be cooperating with. They then immediately challenged another independent journalist. They may have been unused to media filming inside the mall, but in light of later police behavior Wheaton Plaza needs to be held accountable for all misbehavior on their part or to which they may have contributed.
Update7:55PM The activist arrested in Wheaton was released at about 7:50PM, the activist arrested in PG County is still in jail.
Update Jan 2 3PM: The PG County arrest was REALLY ugly, an arrest for filming police brutality followed by cops “roughing up” the videographer enough to force a trip to the hospital before going to jail. As of 3PM Fri, Jan 2 this activist is STILL in jail, STILL not seen a commissioner.
New Year’s Day die-in at Wheaton Plaza
Marching out of Wheaton Plaza after the die-in
Montgomery County Police wait in ambush at one of the Mall entry/exit routes