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DC man shelters protesters at his home after city-wide curfew

JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AFP via Getty Images
A demonstrator try to pass between a police line wearing riot gear as they push back demonstrators outside of the White House, June 1, 2020 in Washington D.C., during a protest over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. 

A Washington, D.C., man said he sheltered 70 protesters overnight after officers used pepper spray on them outside his Northwest home Monday evening after the city-wide 7 p.m. curfew went into effect.

“I’m absolutely grateful that these heroes and these souls that were able to find shelter inside our home,” Rahul Dubey, who sheltered the protesters, told WJLA, an ABC-affiliate, Tuesday. 

Dubey said he was standing on his stoop at about 8:30 p.m. Monday when a couple of protesters asked to charge their phone and use his bathroom. Two others asked if they could run out the back of his home. 

“It was starting to get pretty evil and pretty dark and you could feel that there was some bad energy in the air,” he told the outlet. 

“Literally 15 seconds after I had let them through the back and came out there was a big bang. There was spray, my eyes started burning, screaming like I’ve never heard before,” he said. 

Dubey said the best way he could describe the scene was a “human tsunami.” He said he remembers yelling for about 10 minutes for people to get into the house. 

During a briefing Tuesday, Police Chief Peter Newsham said around 9 p.m. in the Northwest area of the city officers started “to see behavior that was consistent with the behavior that preceded the very violent activity” officers saw the prior two nights. 

He said officers were able to get the group stopped in the 1400 block of Swann Street and made “a significant arrest” of people in violation of the curfew. 

Newsham acknowledged that a homeowner allowed a number of people who were going to be arrested into his home and said those people were ultimately not arrested. He said officers were in “constant communication” with the homeowner throughout the night. 

Newsham said 194 arrests were made in the area of Swann Street. 

One the protesters, Allison Lane tweeted around 10 p.m. that she was sheltered in a home after “being pepper sprayed and knocked down by police.” She said the cops “corralled” protesters on the street and “sprayed” them down. 

Another protester, identified as Taylor, told WJLA she felt like she was going to die before she rushed into Dubey’s home. She said police had boxed protesters in on “all four corners” of Swann Street. 

“To be honest with you, I thought I was going to die in that moment,” she told the outlet.

Although she did not know Dubey, she said she followed others into his home as he called for protesters to come inside. 

“I was in fight or flight mode. Either I’m going to be here or I could stay out here and get hurt,” she added. 

Once inside, Dubey said the scene was “pandemonium and mayhem” for about an hour and a half. But after, he said the crowd broke up into segments of his house and there were different conversations going on from different groups. 

When the city’s curfew lifted at 6 a.m. he said the crowd dispersed out the back door, still afraid to leave from the front. 

After the night spent sheltering the protesters, Dubey said he now considers them family. 

“I hope that my 13-year-old son grows up to be just as amazing as they are,” he said. “And I hope they continue to fight and I hope they go out here today peacefully as they did yesterday and not blink because our country needs them, and needs you, and needs everybody more than ever right now.” 

Elsewhere in the city, low-flying military helicopters were deployed to disperse crowds of protesters. 

Earlier on Monday evening, ahead of the district’s curfew, law enforcement fired tear gas into crowds of peaceful protesters near the White House ahead of President Trump’s address from the Rose Garden.

Tags Black Lives Matter DC Donald Trump George Floyd Peter Newsham police brutality Rahul Dubey Washington D.C.

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