x

Tampa Bay and Sarasota's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Tampa Bay and Sarasota, FL | WTSP.com

Updates: Police at St. John's Church Thursday morning after clash with protesters

DC National Guard is activated and members remain on standby at the National Guard Armory to assist U.S. Park Police to protect monuments.

WASHINGTON — Protesters were in Downtown D.C. at Black Lives Matter Plaza early Thursday morning, near St. John's Church after a clash with police. D.C. police were seen guarding the area in front of the church.

About 400 D.C. National Guardsmen have been activated to assist the National Park Police to protect monuments and control protests in the District, according to a spokesman with D.C. National Guard. 

D.C. National Guard officials said their members will support U.S. Park Police at key monuments to prevent any defacing or destruction.

The activation comes after protests continued into Wednesday morning. D.C. Police pushed demonstrators back from the area of Black Lives Matter Plaza Tuesday morning, allowing the Department of Public Works crews to tear down encampments that had been there for weeks.

Tuesday night, a group marched from the Plaza to block the I-395 tunnel around 10 p.m., and shortly before midnight, an American flag was seen burning on the ground. 

Fencing was also put back up around Lafayette Square after being taken down by U.S. Park Police two weeks ago. 

"Lafayette Park will be closed while NPS assesses damage and begins to make repairs to statues and other park resources. The USSS can best speak to questions on White House security," said the National Park Service in a statement to WUSA9.

RELATED: St. John's Church says it played no role in removing protesters from BLM Plaza

The clearing of Black Lives Matter Plaza began Monday when Deputy Mayor Wayne Turnage said the reopening of H Street was scheduled to begin. That clearance ended in a clash of protesters and police, and an attempt by protesters to remove the Andrew Jackson statue in Lafayette Square. Two people were arrested, four officers were injured, and numerous protesters were hurt due to pepper spray, pepper bullets and shoving with riot shields and batons in removing protesters from the area of the statue.

Police on Tuesday morning demanded that demonstrators evacuate and remove their tents and belongings from the area. Cars that had been tagged with spray paint were also towed out of this area by police and city workers.

Some protesters said they didn't have the opportunity to grab their belongings and weren't given any notice when police began to form a line to remove the group from H Street.

Chanting "Move back," police officers in riot gear and armed with batons advanced on protesters just before 10:30 a.m., pushing their perimeter to 16th and I streets. 

Deputy Mayor Turnage released the following statement about the clearance on Tuesday: “We are always concerned when we have people staying in tents outside – it is not safe. It is also a serious concern if they are staying in tents in the middle of the road. Therefore, today, we deployed our interagency team to talk with the people staying on H Street and, eventually, to remove the tents.”

Protester Michael Jones said he stayed in the encampment in the autonomous zone for three weeks. He told WUSA9 that police pushed protesters out with batons and it was not peaceful. He said officers took tents down and threw them in the trash. 

"This is a good example of who the animals really are," said Jones. "They may have the streets, but they don't have our voice."

WUSA9 observed officers shoving some protesters with their batons to move them with the line, but no striking motions and no firing of any ordinance or pepper spray. One person who had previously stuck his hand in front of WUSA9 cameras and threatened WUSA9 reporters was taken behind the line and arrested while the line of police officers advanced north on 16th Street. 

Lee Calpin, a resident giving medical aid to protesters, told WUSA9 that officers threw away hundreds of dollars of donated supplies from her aid station tent. She said she is now left unable to help people who were in the autonomous zone.

The few protesters that remained in the area of Black Lives Matter Plaza early Tuesday had marked the area as an autonomous zone. 

President Donald Trump threatened "serious force" if people make areas in D.C. autonomous zones.

RELATED: President Trump threatens anyone destroying statues could face 10 years in prison

Recap:

Thursday

  • 3:22 a.m. -- Police still in front of St. John’s Church at Black Live Matter Plaza after Wednesday night's face-off with protesters.
  • 1:10 a.m. -- Fireworks are seen in the sky near the area of H and I streets Northwest, on 16th Stree at Black Lives Matter Plaza. 
  • 1:00 a.m. -- During a police and protesters face-off one was pushed to the ground. 
  • 12:47 a.m. -- A few D.C. police cruisers arrived on 16th and K Streets Northwest with their sirens on. Some protesters left St. John’s Church and headed toward the police before cruisers left the area.
  • 12:14 a.m. -- There is a standoff between protesters and officers at St. John's Episcopal Church.

Wednesday

  • 9:30 p.m. -- Protestors were seen outside Councilmember Charles Allen’s home in D.C. banging on pots and pans and chanting for him to “wake up” and “come outside.” 
  • 7:27 p.m. -- Minutes after police left their line at 16th and I St, a band showed up.
  • 7:15 p.m. -- D.C. police is guarding the area around St. John’s Episcopal Church at the corner of 16th and H Streets Northwest after crews put up fencing around the church.
  • 7:12 p.m. -- Black Lives Matter Plaza between H and I streets Northwest on 16th Street is once again open to protesters. 
  • 12:42 p.m. -- About 400 D.C. National Guardsmen have been activated to assist the National Park Police to protect monuments and control protests in the District at the request of the Secretary of the Interior.
  • 11:00 a.m. -- Officers on bikes are posted at the Farragut Square statue.
  • 10:45 a.m. -- Fences are back up at Lafayette Square Park and around the autonomous zone area. The last block on 16th and H Street is blocked off.
  • 10:45 a.m. -- Crews have removed graffiti from the Andrew Jackson statue.
  • 6:00 a.m. -- Police started allowing people to walk through Black Lives Matter Plaza after blocking the roadway overnight into the early morning.
  • 5:45 a.m. -- A protester was seen arguing face-to-face with officers about his right to protest at Black Lives Matter Plaza although it is closed off.
  • 5:37 a.m. -- Police in the area of Black Lives Matter Plaza continues to keep protesters and people away from the roadway that is now blocked.
  • 5:00 a.m. -- A small group of protesters has started to gather at the intersection of 16th and K Street near Black Lives Matter Plaza.
  • 1:30 a.m. -- Police and protesters clashed again early Wednesday morning. At least one person was seen taken into custody. Police chanted "move back," deploying pepper spray and flash-bang grenades to push protesters away from Black Live Matter Plaza and up to 16th Street. Sergio Torrez (@SergioFSLN) posted a video of the incident on social media.
Sergio LT (@slazo88). Cashapp: $Slaxt88 SC: slaxt

Tuesday

  • 11:40 p.m. -- Protesters return to BLM Plaza and a flag is seen burning
  • 10:11 p.m. -- Protesters have blocked a highway tunnel in Downtown DC.
  • 9:39 p.m. -- Protesters are back in Black Lives Matter Plaza after being pushed out by DC Police earlier Tuesday morning.
  • 7:08 p.m. -- "Lafayette Park will be closed while the NPS assesses damage and begins to make repairs to statues and other park resources. The USSS can best speak to questions on White House security," said the National Park Service in a statement to WUSA9.
  • 6:55 p.m. -- Fencing is now be placed back around Lafayette Square after it was taken down recently after protests in the area had become more peaceful. 
  • 6:50 p.m. -- Protests in the District have led to road closers in certain areas of D.C.

CLOSED - DC-295 North/Southbound entrances towards Westbound SW/SE Fwy
CLOSED - Eastbound SWSE Fwy after 14th St Bridge
CLOSED - Inbound South Capitol St towards NB 3rd St TunnelCLOSED - 4th St/New York Ave towards Southbound 3rd St Tunnel
CLOSED - All RAMPS, and Tunnels towards the SW/SE Fwy

*Road Closures subject to change*

  • 4 p.m. -- Police have left the intersection of K and 16h streets after they towed at least one vehicle that was covered in spray paint. At least one arrest was made during the shut down.
  • 3:30 p.m. -- D.C. Police surrounded the entire intersection of K and 16th streets NW. It has cut off a decent amount of access to Black Lives Matter Plaza. As this happens, a homeless man tells WUSA9's Delia Goncalves, "I am homeless and that is my house they are taking - no one asked me!!"
  • 3:00 p.m. -- Protesters remain just outside the police line, which stands at 16th and I. It has been 5 hours since they were pushed back from H Street.
  • 1:10 p.m. -- Protester Raymond Williams asks, "Why did the mayor paint Black Lives Matter here if she was just going to kick us out?" Williams was asking for the right to continue to peacefully protest in the area.


  • 11:59 a.m. -- D.C. Deputy Mayor Turnage released a statement about the clearing of the area: “We are always concerned when we have people staying in tents outside – it is not safe. It is also a serious concern if they are staying in tents in the middle of the road. Therefore, today, we deployed our interagency team to talk with the people staying on H Street and, eventually, to remove the tents.”
  • 11:44 a.m. -- Lee Calpin, a resident giving medical aid to protesters, told WUSA9 that officers threw away hundreds of dollars of donated supplies from her aid station tent. She said she is now left unable to help people who were in the autonomous zone.
  • 11:36 a.m. -- DPW crews continue to clean the area and clear tents.
  • 11:27 a.m. -- Michael Jones, a protester who has been in the encampment for three weeks, told WUSA9 police pushed protesters out with batons, not peacefully. He said officers took tents down and threw them in the trash.
  • 11:24 a.m. -- Andrew Brimhall from Texas was seen placing flowers and flags on the ground to honor the police, historic statues, and to show solidarity with protesters who want their voices heard.
  • 11:10 a.m. -- Police continue to hold the line at Black Lives Matter Plaza as protesters gather.
  • 10:49 a.m. -- Police are clearing out Black Lives Matter Plaza and have taken down tents. DPW has arrived at the scene is now cleaning the streets and sidewalks.
  • 10:31 a.m. -- Police are pushing demonstrators back and clearing H Street and down 16th Street to move protesters to I Street.
  • 10:21 a.m. -- Officers enter the autonomous zone to clear out the area of Black Lives Matter Plaza.
  • 10:19 a.m. -- Dozens of D.C. police officers line up outside of the "autonomous zone."
  • 8:45 a.m. -- President Donald Trump threatens anyone destroying statues could face 10 years in prison after protesters tried to topple Andrew Jackson statue. 
  • 6:46 a.m. --  President Trump tweets that he has authorized officers to arrest anyone who destroys or vandalizes any monument.
  • 4:35 a.m. -- WUSA9's Matt Gregory is chased out of "The Black House" autonomous zone. He said five protestors told him they didn't want cameras there.
  • 4:27 a.m. -- D.C. Public Works crews are talking to protesters about clearing the roads.
  • 4:23 a.m. -- D.C. Public Works crews arrive at the scene to try and clear the area protestors deemed an 'autonomous zone.'
  • 2:05 a.m.-- Protesters are asking other demonstrators to leave Lafayette Park.
  • 2:02 a.m. -- Police started to leave Black Lives Matter Plaza although about 60 people were still in the area.
  • 1:58 a.m.--  A small group of protesters remains outside Lafayette Square following Monday night's attempt to topple Andrew Jackson statue. A few police officers and protesters were seen leaving the area.

On Monday night, a large crowd of protesters broke into the fence surrounding the Andrew Jackson statue and tried to topple the bronze statue using ropes. Police arrived at the scene shortly after and pushed the crowd out of Lafayette Park to Black Lives Matter Plaza using pepper spray.

RELATED: Protesters, police clash in Lafayette Square after trying to tear down Andrew Jackson statue

Credit: WUSA9

Following the intense encounter with police, President Donald Trump tweeted that multiple people were arrested. Trump also tweeted that he has authorized officers to arrest anyone who destroys or vandalizes any monument.

The statue remained unremoved and mounted on its pedestal.

Dozens of demonstrators are expected to march from Lafayette Square Park to the John Wilson Building on Tuesday to confront D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. They're expected to address concerns following weeks of protests and recent attempts of removing confederate statues in the city.

RELATED: Who is Andrew Jackson and why did protesters try to take down his statue?

Download the brand-new WUSA9 app here.

Sign up for the Get Up DC newsletter: Your forecast. Your commute. Your news.