Police, Organizers and Businesses Prepare Washington D.C. for Biggest Protests Yet

Police, business owners and protest organizers have prepared the District of Columbia for what may be the largest demonstrations yet against racism and law enforcement violence against black Americans.

City, federal and military officials have faced bureaucratic struggles on how the thousands of National Guard troops and Washington, D.C. police are expected to keep the peace as some organizers hope to get one million people people to demonstrate.

District of Columbia law enforcement officials announced the closure of much of downtown Washington's North West (NW) quadrant from 6 a.m. through midnight Saturday, ahead of the scheduled protests.

Several local theaters -- closed for months amid the coronavirus pandemic -- have temporarily reopened to allow protesters to use the restroom or take a break temperatures expected to reach nearly 90 degrees. Boarded-up windows and cordoned off streets were also placed ahead of several separate rallies expected Saturday.

Several local businesses including the Woolly Mammoth Theatre on D Street say they will provide protesters with water, restrooms, places to charge their phones and trained first aid sites, WUSA-TV reported Friday. Local churches including Luther Place Memorial Church on Vermont Avenue and Foundry United Methodist Church on 16th Street also say they will open their facilities and offer supplies to protesters Saturday. The Dacha Beer Garden owners say they will do the same on their property.

The One Million Persons demonstration is set to begin at noon Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial. A second protest, deemed "No Justice No Peace," is set to begin at 2 p.m. at the Dirsken Senate Office building. A third march is planned to begin on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge at 3 p.m., followed by a 4 p.m. "There Will be a Protest! DC" rally in Lafayette Square. A fifth planned protest is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. in Malcolm X Park.

All of the protests come in the aftermath of George Floyd, who died on May 25 when a Minneapolis police officer placed his knee on Floyd's neck while in custody.

D.C. Fire Chief Gregory Dean on Friday announced the department has increased staffing and is preparing for the arrival of between 50,000 and 100,000 protesters. "We assume everybody will be peaceful," he told NBC Washington. The fire department urged all demonstrators to prepare by bringing water and staying hydrated at the humid city temperatures are set to remain in the high 80s all day.

D.C.'s Metro subway system told The Washington Post they are planning to open the first and last cars of trains headed downtown this weekend as most of public transit has been pulled back for COVID-19 precautions.

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser recently commissioned artists to paint massive "Black Lives Matter" letters on a section of 16th Street between H and K streets that runs alongside the White House.

Bowser recently told President Donald Trump to remove "all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence" from the city amid the protests. The White House itself has added nearly two miles of fencing around the property to protect the president.

Newsweek reached out to the mayor's office Saturday for any additional preparations.

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Police, business owners and protest organizers have prepared Washington D.C. for what may be the largest demonstrations yet against racism and law enforcement violence against black Americans. DANIEL SLIM / Contributor/Getty Images