Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and Police Chief Peter Newsham discussed protests in the District and updates to the DC public school reopening plan during her Nov. 4 Situational Update
As polls closed across the District and the nation, many protesters took to the streets as election results began to roll in. Chief of Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Peter Newsham said he was “very pleased” by what he saw in the District last night as many people peacefully exercised their first amendment rights near Black Lives Matter Plaza.
Newsham said that there were four arrests made throughout the District and that police did not have to deploy riot gear and said the night was an example of “a very peaceful demonstration.”
There was one assault with a dangerous weapon reported on New York Avenue NW, and Newsham said the police were unaware of the motive behind the assault.
Newsham encouraged people to get out and protest but emphasized the need for everyone to follow city laws.
“If you want to come out and exercise your first amendment right; Washington DC is the place to be and we welcome you,” Newsham said. “If you want to come out here and you want to break the law, we have a responsibility to ensure that does not happen and we will take you into custody.”
Bowser said the District is prepared for any scenario that may arise within the next couple of days.
“We have every worst case scenario planned, we have the personnel that we need to respond and we will respond,” Bowser said. “Everyone has a right to exercise their first amendment rights, but nobody has the right to hurt anyone else, to destroy property or break our laws.”
District residents will continue to see parking restrictions remain in place while all roads Downtown have reopened. Newsham said that the status of the road closures is subject to change based on first amendment activity.
Bowser and the city called off plans to reopen the schools last weekend’s last-minute negotiations between the Washington Teachers Union (WTU) and DCPS. Reports indicated that those negotiations had been unsuccessful, largely hinging on the WTU insistence that teachers have the right to choose whether they go back in-person. Families at Maury Elementary (1250 Constitution Ave. NE) received a notice from the principal indicating that due to requests for sick leave, students would need to move to asynchronous instruction Monday.
Bowser said that those already offered in-person slots as part of the reopening plan will be the first back in the classrooms.
“Students need to be back in school with their teachers,” Bowser said. “But if we’re not able to do that then we will have some version of in-person learning happening.”
Sarah Payne is a History and Neuroscience student at The University of Michigan interning with HillRag. She writes for and serves as an assistant news editor for Michigan’s student newspaper, The Michigan Daily. You can reach her at [email protected].