WASHINGTON — In less than a month, nearly 100,000 people are expected to descend on the National Mall for the Commitment March on Washington to commemorate 57 years since the first March on Washington and the continued fight against police brutality.
But D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser reiterated her quarantine order for visitors from 27 states with higher rates of COVID-19. It appears the march participants are included in that order.
“As far as getting too close to people that may be inevitable with the turnout that's expected,” Heather Norton, CEO and founder of the nonprofit Reloved, said.
The group, based in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, is coordinating a bus trip to D.C. for the August 28th March. More than 100 community members have registered so far.
“We are taking every precaution we can,” she said. "We know that the charter bus companies are doing everything they can, including fumigating and sanitizing all the buses before they depart.”
Pennsylvania is not on the list of states deemed COVID-19 hot spots by D.C. Health, so Norton’s neighbors are not affected by the 14-day quarantine. Still, she said everyone attending will make sure they’re safe. Norton said the nonprofit just received a donation of 1,000 masks and hand sanitizers.
“The National Action Network has a great plan in place," she said. "They’re coordinating masks and sanitizing stations all throughout the city for the day. There is also another movement that I know about that's been started to provide everyone with big black umbrellas -- partially for shade, partially to encourage social distancing and partially because that would make quite a statement to see a huge sea of black in D.C.”
Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network is the lead organizer for the march. Sharpton posted on twitter that despite COVID-19 restrictions, folks should show up in honor of the late congressman John Lewis, who until his death on July 17 was the last living speaker from the 1963 March on Washington
“A distancing march, we will not have hot spots bring buses in,” he said in the video. "We’re going to be very conscious and wear face masks but we’re going to take a stand for what John Lewis stood for, the Voting Act and the George Floyd Policing Act."
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A D.C. resident reached out to WUSA9’s Delia Gonçalves on Twitter and said, “I’m concerned that D.C., possibly on the eve of the return to in-person school, will be exposing our city to a surge. In my heart, I want to see an overwhelming, deafening roar to drown out the nay-sayers. My head says that if the march draws from hot spots, we could be in real trouble.”
Despite his concerns, the writer said he will still attend the March, wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.
“At the end of the day, it's really just about coming together, standing for what we believe in, fighting for the change that we need and doing it as safely as we can,” Norton said.
WUSA9 made several attempts to get in touch with Bowser's office and the D.C. Bureau Chief for the National Action Network about plans to keep everyone safe and stick to the mayor’s quarantine orders, but neither one returned our messages.