Authorities Prepare for Ferguson Protests in Washington
Downtown business owners and property managers in the District of Columbia are warning of the potential for violent Ferguson-related protests Thursday night.
Building managers suggested lockdowns and alternate travel routes to counter a national “Day of Rage” rally, planned to begin outside the White House at 7 p.m. The D.C. event is one of dozens of protests called for by the activists of Anonymous in a video that asks citizens “to collectively gather in support for those who are suffering in Ferguson.”
Update: Protests Stay Peaceful, More Planned
Capitol Police also are on alert for any protests near the Hill, hoping to keep things calm while still allowing demonstrators to exercise First Amendment rights.
“We are in continuous contact with our [law enforcement] partners regarding the proposed activity around D.C. and maintain our constant state of vigilance throughout the Capitol Campus,” department spokesman Shennell Antrobus told CQ Roll Call in an email.
Since Michael Brown was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, subsequent violence has unfolded between police and demonstrators in the St. Louis suburb.
One week ago, people gathered nationwide to honor the unarmed teenager’s memory and protest police brutality. A protest in Meridian Hill Park drew about 2,000 people. Park Police stood guard as protesters raised their hands and called for justice.
The “Day of Rage,” though framed as peaceful, has evoked more concern from law enforcement.
The Department of Homeland Security appears to be on alert nationwide, according to a bulletin that appears to have been issued by the Threat Management Division of the Federal Protective Service. It includes intelligence gathered on the events and details on Anonymous’ origins.
The bulletin describes Anonymous as an “asymmetric associated international network of hacktivist and activists entities known for a series of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on government, religious and corporate websites,” and notes people affiliated with the group like to wear Guy Fawkes masks.
“Currently there is no indication that protests are expected to become violent,” the bulletin states. “However, recent protests in Ferguson have resulted in violence, property damage and subsequent arrests.”
A spokesperson for DHS would not confirm the authenticity of the two-page bulletin , which has been circulated online as unclassified and for official use only.
In addition to the 7 p.m. rally, Ferguson supporters are planning a 6:30 p.m. gathering for solidarity at Columbia Heights Square. The tagline for the event, being publicized through Facebook, is “#DC says #BlackLivesMatter.”