WASHINGTON — Protesters were seen marching through the District as they gathered at Black Lives Matter Plaza Friday evening just days before the closing arguments begin in the Derek Chauvin trial and days after two deadly shootings involving police that took place in the United States.
Hundreds were spotted marching through downtown D.C. -- up 14th St. NW, eventually progressing to 16th and U Streets in NW -- chanting and fighting for racial injustice.
While Friday evening's protests remained peaceful, footage obtained by WUSA9 shows that some people in the protest group were setting off fireworks along the way.
Law enforcement and city officials across the District are preparing for mass demonstrations and protests this upcoming next week as the Chauvin trial begins to wind down.
On Thursday, WUSA9 reported that D.C. Police will initiate a full department activation next week in anticipation of possible protests in response to a verdict in the Chauvin murder trial.
Chauvin is the former Minneapolis police officer currently standing trial for the death of George Floyd in May 2020. Floyd’s death after Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than 9 minutes prompted nationwide protests and drew thousands to “Black Lives Matter” events in the District.
In an internal MPD email obtained by WUSA9, the department informed officers that, beginning the morning of April 19, MPD would be “fully activated to support expected First Amendment demonstrations.”
“All members should be prepared to work extended hours as necessary,” the message read.
Protests in June drew what was seen as a heavy-handed response from the federal government, including the mobilization of unmarked Bureau of Prisons riot officers and the use of a National Guard helicopter to attempt to disperse crowds.
To accomplish that, the department said all leave and optional sick days were canceled, and all sworn members of the department will be beginning a 12-hour schedule effective Monday.
After weeks of testimony, Chauvin’s defense rested its case on Thursday with the former officer invoking his Fifth Amendment rights and declining to testify. Closing arguments are set to begin on Monday, after which the jury will enter deliberations until a verdict is reached.
Chauvin faces three charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. If convicted, he could face up to 40 years in prison.