A section of Wisconsin Avenue and Q Street NW in Georgetown was partially blocked off by Metropolitan Police around 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 25, when about a dozen protesters with noisemakers — protesting noise pollution in neighborhoods of color — faced off with police officers and the female driver of a car that the youths claim tried to run them down. The protesters called the driver “Georgetown Karen.”
The incident occurred in front of the Georgetown Exxon and TD Bank.
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Joe Gibbons, who observed the scene while walking his dog, told The Georgetowner: “No one was arrested. No one was hurt. I didn’t see anyone on the ground. One protester seemed to be trying to climb onto the hood of the car, which police calmly discouraged. The female driver looked terrified. A police report was filed.”
Gibbons continued: “I watched as the police made inquiries of everyone while allowing traffic and pedestrian flow and other normal activities to continue. They were doing everything to keep things calm. I left when the driver was permitted to leave.”
Others saw it differently. “Let me speak on what happened in Georgetown tonight,” Julia Clark posted on her Facebook page. “Tonight @concernedofdc led a siren/noise pollution protest where we blocked off streets in Georgetown. The police presence was heavy. As we blocked off streets we demanded that people turn around. This was a minor inconvenience for this affluent white neighborhood.
“As we blocked streets, certain drivers got annoyed and attempted to maneuver their way around us. This particular white woman tried to cut through a gas station. Me and a couple other protestors stood in front of her car and demanded she turn around. Instead she steps on the gas. She had already attempted to run us over multiple times and I had moved from the front of the car to the side and was banging on her window screaming at her to stop. Throughout this whole thing, the cops are doing nothing. Finally cops come but instead of arresting this woman, or asking for her ID, registration, etc., they turn towards us and begin pushing us. We are BEGGING them to arrest this woman who just tried to run over protesters repeatedly.”
Three suspects were identified and arrest warrants would be prepared for those individuals on the charge of destruction of property — namely, a automobile — according to a police source.
The source further informed The Georgetowner: “The protestors surrounding the vehicle began striking the victim’s car with their hands and blunt objects. The right side mirror of the victim’s car was broken off by the protestors.”
A poster on Facebook announced the Siren Pollution Walking Rally on Saturday. The announcement read: “Every day neighborhoods of color are subjected to the nuisance of siren pollution from police cars and emergency vehicles as a result of conditions that arose out of systematic inequities. Time to flip the script. Bring bells, whistles or drums if you’d like.”
A Georgetown Business Improvement District alert posted on Sunday afternoon stated: “MPD reports to us that there is a planned peaceful protest in Georgetown tonight. The protesters will be gathering at Volta Park, located near 33rd & Q Streets. MPD second district will be deploying a unit of officers to monitor and escort the protesters and ensure safety for both the protesters and the public.
“Last night there was a similar protest on Wisconsin Avenue that caused the street to be closed for a portion of the evening. We anticipate that this may occur again. It is our goal to ensure that peaceful protesters in Georgetown are welcomed and treated with respect. While protests can be disruptive, they are constitutionally protected speech and we want to ensure that Georgetown is perceived as a place that is welcoming to all. If you are concerned about your business, you should consider being present. If you see any criminal activity — you should immediately call 911.”
The Georgetowner saw no signs of the Sunday protest in Georgetown. “It may have moved to Dupont Circle,” Gibbons said. “I just want to note that the police were a calming influence Saturday night on Wisconsin Avenue. They did a great job.”