On Dec 31, 2015, New Years Eve, Black Lives Matter protesters swarmed into Chinatown by the hundreds. They marched from Chinatown to 14th st to U st, shutting down strategic intersections along the way. This time around, protesters were demanding not only the prosecution of killer cops but also the removal from office of DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. Muriel Bowser was behind 2015’s failed attempt to greatly extend police search powers over African-American youth who have ever been in police custody.
Speakers at the post-march rally complained that yuppies have been routinely calling the cops when they see African-American neighbors sitting outside on their porches or hear African-American voices at night. The infamous “robbery fear” case where an African-American student was beaten by police after opening the door for a white customer at an ATM was brought up. Far from being a robber, he was there to get his own money out of the bank. This kind of “robbery fear,” the fear by the “New Washingtonians” that ALL African-American youth are stereotypical criminals has driven a brutal wave of police harassment. It is also worth keeping in mind that police departments in the US originated with the slave catchers of the Old South, so this behavior is no surprise.
The New Year’s Eve rallies were supercharged by the refusal of an Ohio grand jury to indict the killer cops that murdered 12 year old Tamir Rice in Cleveland over a pellet gun. In DC the protest was so big as to resemble the early December 2014 protests that came from the refusal to indict Darren Wilson for shootint Michael Brown. In Baltimore protesters dropped banners in the Inner Harbor and set up at least one Tamir Riice memorial on the property of the rich. Activists are vowing coast to coast to take this to a new level in 2016.
Black Lives Matter activists in DC may gain new allies in their fight to get rid of Mayor Bowser. Her latest “zero vision” proposal for $1,000 traffic fines for some offenses-and to create new traffic offenses, has alarmed poverty groups. People of limited economic means would be unable to pay these fines without being evicted for nonpayment of rent or going for weeks without food. As a result the fines could not be paid and drivers licenses would have to be abandoned. Some would have to risk arrest for driving to work or give up their jobs. With as many enemies as Mayor Bowser is making, all that FreshPAC cash might get burned up on staving off a recall election instead of further advancing the agendas of condo developers and Wal-Mart.
Marching out of Chinatown after shutting down 7th and H streets
Shutting down NY Ave at the H st merge
Shutting down the 14th and U st intersection. U st was once known as “Black Broadway,” now police harass African-American youth there, go-go music is banned, and many Black nightclubs have been shut down by city regulators in that part of town