WASHINGTON — Later this week, nearly 10,000 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.
The Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network are organizing this year's March on Washington.
Sharpton announced plans for the march during the memorial service for George Floyd, who was killed at the hands of police in May, sparking weeks of protests in D.C. and around the nation.
But with the COVID-19 pandemic, protocols have changed due to restrictions D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser implemented in her quarantine order for visitors from states with higher rates of COVID-19. Following a National Board meeting, Sharpton and the National Action Network (NAN) announced strict rules and restrictions to ensure safety during this year's March on Washington amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here's what you need to know for this year's March on Washington 2020:
When is the event and how can I go and march?
The march, scheduled for Aug. 28, will coincide with the original March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which took place in 1963, and where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.
According to NAN's website, attendees will need to have a ticket. If interested, you can register ahead of time online. Walk-up tickets will still be available, but NAN encourages attendees to get their ticket prior to the march.
Participants can begin filing into the National Mall at 17th St. NW beginning at 5 a.m.
So, what is this going to look like?
Rev. Sharpton, the National Action Network, Martin Luther King III, NAACP Attorney Benjamin Crump and families of police brutality victims, along with labor leaders, clergy, activists and civil rights advocates, will lead a Commitment March to fight for criminal justice reform in solidarity with those who have lost loved ones at the hands of the police.
Will there be speakers at the march?
While the official speaker line up is not yet set in stone, march participants can expect addresses from Sharpton, Martin Luther King, III, and civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump.
The family members of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, and others are also expected to speak, in addition to members of Congress.
What safety protocols will be in place for the march?
The march's COVID-19 protocols for participants include:
- Distribution of masks,
- Thermometer check-in stations,
- Restricting access to buses from states or cities that are "COVID-19 hot spots"
- Practicing social distancing.
Sharpton said that face coverings will be required and one will be given to participants free of charge if they do not have one.
Gloves and hand sanitizer will also be given out to participants.
Once I'm at the march, where do I need to go?
Crowds will be directed to 17th St., NW, to begin the process for entry at the general entrance:
- To participate, each person must receive a NAN branded neon green wristband and a ticket. To receive a wristband and ticket, each person must have their temperature checked, must wear or receive a face mask, gloves (optional), and hand sanitizer from our volunteers, lined up along 17th in between each distribution center.
Due to very limited seating, if you are visually impaired or require wheelchair service please email immediately ADA@nationalactionnetwork.net for accommodations.
If you are unable to stand for a long period of time, NAN highly encourages you to view the broadcast live stream on their website.
Is the weather going to be OK for the event on Friday?
The weather on Friday is projected to be hot and very humid, so take into account any heat-related preparation. Highs are expected to be in the low 90s with the heat index 95-99 degrees. While most of the day is rain-free, there will be isolated afternoon thunderstorms.
Of course, when there is a threat to public health or safety, officials have the right to close the National Mall or an event being held there for such duration as determined necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of the public.
Will there be tight security at the event? What about medical services?
NPS Permits Management Specialist and/or Event Monitors may be assigned for on-site supervision each day of the event. In addition, U.S. Park Police officers may also be assigned to provide for public safety.
The GW Medical Faculty Associates are providing professionally trained and licensed EMTs that will provide first aid and emergency service on the day of the event. The staff will serve as first responders for medical emergencies.
Tents will provide basic first aid and life support, and there will be 3 locations with Advanced Life Support programs and cold bottled water for the prompt attention to the health needs of all special guests and all attendees.
The first aid tent is large enough to provide shelter from the sun for those who become overheated. A medical tent will be on-site with cold water at the dispersal point located on the grounds of the West Potomac Park and Lincoln Memorial.
An isolation tent for those experiencing COVD-19 systems will be located near the medical tent located on the southwest corner of Constitution Ave. and 17th St., and inside fencing near the medical tent at West Potomac Park located on Ohio Drive.
OK, so I don't want to go due to concerns regarding COVID-19. How can I still participate or watch?
The NAACP announced they will lead a “2020 Virtual March on Washington.” Civil rights leaders, activists, and families of people who have lost loved ones at the hands of police will be leading the charge.
Black Lives Matter, the organization at the forefront of protests against incidents of police brutality and all racially motivated violence against Black people, is also hosting a virtual conference but has also been invited to participate in the march.
"They've been invited and they have a virtual conference that they said will start after the march," Sharpton said of Black Lives Matter. "We're not fighting against each other. We're finding ways to cooperate because all of us want to see something done about the threat of voting rights and about police brutality."
And of course, WUSA9 will be broadcasting the March on Washington both on our on-air and digital platforms starting Friday morning on Get Up DC.
What roads and streets will be impacted by the march?
While the march is expected to have around 10,000 participants, if you are planning to leave the city to go into Virginia, plan for an alternative route across the Potomac.
The following streets will be posted as 'Emergency No Parking' from approximately 12:00 am to 11:59 pm:
- Constitution Avenue from Pennsylvania Avenue, NW to 18th Street, NW
- Pennsylvania Avenue from 3rd Street, NW to 18th Street, NW
- Independence Avenue from 3rd Street, NW to 23rd Street, SW
- Connecticut Avenue from H Street, NW to L Street, NW
- Vermont Avenue from H Street, NW to L Street, NW
- I Street from 12th Street, NW to 18th Street, NW
- H Street from 12th Street, NW to 18th Street, NW
- K Street from 12th Street, NW to 18th Street, NW
- New York Avenue from 12th Street, NW to 15th Street, NW
- 17th Street from Constitution Avenue, NW to L Street, NW
- 16th Street From H Street, NW to O Street, NW
- 15th Street from Constitution Avenue, NW to L Street, NW
- 14th Street from Independence Avenue, SW to K Street, NW
- 13th Street from Pennsylvania Avenue, NW to E Street, NW
- 12th Street from Constitution Avenue, NW to E Street, NW
- 11th Street from Constitution Avenue, NW to E Street, NW
- 10th Street from Constitution Avenue, NW to E Street, NW
- 9th Street from Constitution Avenue, NW to Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
- 7th Street from Independence Avenue, SW to E Street, NW
- 6th Street from Constitution Avenue, NW to Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
- 4th Street from Independence Avenue, SW to Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
- 3rd Street from Independence Avenue, SW to Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
- 23rd Street from E Street, NW to Constitution Avenue, NW
- Virginia Avenue from 23rd Street, NW to Constitution Avenue, NW
- E Street from 23rd Street, NW to 18th Street, NW
- New York Avenue from 18th Street, NW to 17th Street, NW
- 20th Street from E Street, NW to Constitution Avenue, NW
- 21st Street from E Street, NW to Constitution Avenue, NW
- 19th Street from E Street, NW to Constitution Avenue, NW
- C Street from 18th Street, NW to Virginia Avenue, NW
- C Street from Virginia Avenue, NW to 21st Street, NW
- D Street from 18th Street, NW to 17th Street, NW
- Madison Street from 3rd Street, NW to 15th Street, NW
- Jefferson Street from 3rd Street, NW to 15th Street, NW
The following streets will be restricted to vehicular traffic from approximately 6:00 am to 11:59 pm: (If safe to do so, vehicles will be allowed to enter the restricted area if they are on essential business or traveling to-and-from their residence).
- Independence Avenue, SW from 14th Street to Ohio Drive, SW
- 23rd Street, NW from Constitution Avenue, NW to Memorial Bridge
- Henry Bacon Drive, NW from Constitution Avenue to Lincoln Memorial Circle, NW
- Constitution Avenue from 12th Street to 18th Street, NW
- Southbound Rock Creek Parkway will be closed at Virginia Avenue, NW
- Maine Avenue, SW will be closed at I-395 to all westbound traffic
- Access to East Potomac Park from I-395 will be by National Park Service permit only
- 18th Street, NW from E Street to Constitution Avenue, NW
- 17th Street, NW from L Street to Independence Avenue, SW
- 16th Street, NW from L Street to I Street, NW
- 15th Street, NW from L Street to Independence Avenue, SW
- 14th Street, NW from L Street to Independence Avenue, SW
- 13th Street, NW from L Street to Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
- New York Avenue from 11th Street, NW to 15th Street, NW
- Vermont Avenue from L Street, NW to H Street, NW
- Connecticut Avenue from L Street, NW to H Street, NW
- I Street, NW from 12th Street to 18th Street, NW
- H Street, NW from 12th Street to 18th Street, NW
- G Street from 12th Street, NW to 15th Street, NW and 17th Street to 18th Street
- F Street, NW from 12th Street, NW to 15th Street, NW and 17th Street to 18th Street
- E Street, NW from 12th Street, NW to 15th Street, NW and 17th Street to 18th Street
- D Street, NW from 17th Street to 18th Street
- Pennsylvania Avenue, NW from 12th Street, NW to 15th Street, NW and 17th Street to 18th Street, NW
If I have out of state guests participating in the march, will they have to self-quarantine afterward?
Anyone traveling to D.C. from states D.C. Health Department deems as "high risk" due to the coronavirus, will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
The new travel order applies to people coming to the District for non-essential activities. On the other hand, those who are entering the D.C. region for essential travel or after essential travel are urged to monitor any potential symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days.
If they have any symptoms, they must self-quarantine and get tested or seek medical attention.
"We have said that if you're in a hot spot state, have a march there," Sharpton said. "We'll have a march that National Action Network is doing in South Carolina in front of the offices of [Sen.] Lindsey Graham, Houston, Texas in front of the office of Sen.Ted Cruz and Florida in front of [Sen. Marco] Rubio's office."
Despite the ongoing pandemic, Sharpton is confident that this year's march will not be a risk to those who choose to participate.
"We're confident because we've checked with the health experts," Sharpton said. "They've never stopped marching every day in other cities, and there has not been an uptick in COVID-19 in any of those areas, because they're outdoors and people are taking precautions. And we're confident that this will also be the case on Aug. 28."
This story will be updated whenever new details regarding the March on Washington emerge.