Counterproductive Protesters

“Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.” — Carl Jung

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The intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and N Street in Georgetown on June 3. Photo by Constance Chatfield-Taylor.

Lately, some Black Lives Matter protesters have pivoted from marching in parks and along streets in commercial districts to take their message to residential areas.

Whether frightening pedestrians and motorists on Wisconsin Avenue or screaming at customers at Thomas Sweet, what is intended as a wake-up call to residents of upscale neighborhoods is anything but.

After midnight on Aug. 9, protestors marched along P and Q Streets, banging pots and using bullhorns to tell Georgetowners to “wake up.” In their minds, heavily Democratic and pro-Biden Georgetown is in need of some anti-racism education.

A similar crowd blocked traffic on Key Bridge and was also spotted on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 8, at 30th and N Streets NW. Again, in terms of winning friends and influencing people, this appears to be poor judgment by some BLM activists. They must not have learned that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Of the nighttime protests, Cmdr. Duncan Bedlion of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Second District told The Georgetowner: “A group of approximately 30 to 40 protesters were reported traveling in the area. MPD members were present, and at this time there have been no reports of violence or property damage.”

At least that’s a long way from the events of the night of May 31, when 42 businesses were looted and, in total, 57 vandalized. The following evening, some business owners brought firearms to their establishments. During the first week of June, Georgetown’s M Street and Wisconsin Avenue looked demolished: 184 buildings were boarded up.

Still, the looting spree remains fresh in the minds (and bank accounts) of business owners and residents. Not only is this not good PR for BLM, people are fearful and angry.

We know there are those who seek to take criminal advantage of the protests. “The looting and vandalizing of Georgetown and other District businesses have been lumped together with the protests, but, in fact, most of the protesters were peaceful,” wrote Georgetown Business Improvement District CEO Joe Sternlieb. “The worst looting seems to have been carried out by professional thieves targeting high-end stores and using the opportunity of an overtaxed police force to strike.”

Meanwhile, the baseless judging of places like Georgetown and its inhabitants by some protesters reveals a naiveté and a missing of the historical moment. And misses the goal. Americans back the ideals of the Black Lives Matter movement. Let’s not have intimidating protesters cause that message to get lost in their noise. Peaceful protesters win hearts of everyone.

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  1. I was on the bus on Tuesday August 18th at about 7:15 PM when the bus stopped about half a block from the Georgetown CVS and could go no further. Those of us on the bus got off and started walking up Wisconsin Avenue. There were BLM protesters near Wisconsin and Q Street. They seemed to be protesting in front of Los Cuates restaurant. The protesters were chanting something, but I couldn’t understand what they were saying. There were a few cops and a cop car at Wisconsin and Q Street. The protesters were on the sidewalk but they were also in the street in front of the restaurant blocking buses and cars from going by.

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