“There was no apparent looting or destruction in Georgetown on Monday [early morning],” said Georgetown Business Improvement District CEO Joe Sternlieb, who toured the neighborhood’s commercial blocks at 6:30 a.m. and again at 7:30 p.m. on June 1.
“It seems that a group of about 150 protesters were stopped from coming in at around 26th and M Streets by police after 7 p.m., when the mayor’s emergency curfew took place. There may have been some intended looters in the crowd, but they didn’t get through.”
Shop owners had been preparing for possible looting all day on Monday. From Q Street and the George Town Club south on Wisconsin Avenue, and west and east along M Street, the majority of shops — several with shattered glass fronts — were being fitted for heavy boards to cover windows and sometimes the entire storefront. By evening, almost all Georgetown shops and businesses were boarded up, as if ready for a hurricane.
Some store owners went further, hiring private security (or in some cases buff friends) to stand guard overnight.
“But that may not be enough,” managers of the Major boutique and Salon Pejman, who did not want to be fully identified, told The Georgetowner. “We were there last night. We watched as a dozen cars, mostly with non-D.C. licenses … full of looters drove up to the shops. There was nothing we could do, as they worked in teams of up to 40 men and women dressed in black with masks, first tearing down plywood barriers, smashing windows with heavy tools they had brought with them from the cars and running into the stores en masse, grabbing everything they could find. Then, they piled back into cars and left. Took maybe 10 minutes. A lone police officer came and caught one of the looters, but that was all. We caught it all on video surveillance.”
Other store owners told The Georgetowner they had seen people they believed to be scouters on the corner of P Street and Wisconsin Avenue, as the CVS across the street was being covered by boarding and the Ella-Rue and Sam’s shops were assessing their losses from the looting the night before.
Similar descriptions of masses of organized looters were shared on Facebook by witnesses on P Street — near Morgan Pharmacy, which was broken into on Sunday night — and on Dumbarton Street, around the corner from Wisconsin Avenue, where much of the looting took place.
“From my observations, this had nothing to do with legitimate protest or even protest that spontaneously erupted, or was incited, into a mob or random looting,” wrote longtime Georgetown resident David Abrams. “With businesses hit and no police in sight on Sunday night, now residents are frightened or at least very concerned.”
“You would be stunned to learn the low number of police patrols overnight in normal times,” Democratic State Committee member and Georgetown resident Monica Roaché wrote The Georgetowner.
“I apologize that it got to this point,” said District 2 Commander Duncan Bedlion of the Metropolitan Police Department at the June 1 meeting (via Zoom) of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E. “Tonight, every police officer in our district, including administrators, have been ordered on patrol. That amounts to about 35 additional officers in the Georgetown area, added to the four or five that normally patrol at night. We may be stopping cars trying to come in after the 7 p.m. curfew to confirm if the drivers and passengers are essential workers or have legitimate business.”
Police made a number of arrests, especially around the Dupont Circle area, for curfew violations, Bedlion said.