Washington's sixth night of protests in the wake of George Floyd's death was overwhelmingly peaceful, but the anger that sparked demonstrations here and across the nation has remained palpable.
“His dream was to go to Vegas, to take his family to Vegas to live there," one protester said Wednesday night, referring to his brother. "So, he did just that, as a man. And when he got to Vegas, guess what Vegas police did? Shoot him in his face in his home in front of his kids. He can’t be just another hashtag, bro.”
For him and other protesters, the demonstrations are necessary — and they're personal.
One day a couple of years ago, said demonstrator Mouhamed Ndoye, "I was riding my BMW. They stop me, asking me, ‘Whose car is this?’ I was getting [on] to a plane in first class. They tell me, ‘You are in the wrong side.’ Why? Because of my color. I get stopped also getting to first class, asking me, ‘Where you going?’ I was the first one they called, you know, to go in. And I see two police officers come inside, look [at me] like I am a bad person. And they were letting white folks go in."
Floyd died in police custody on May 25, and some protesters, like Yaye Sy, say his death was the tipping point that forced them into the streets. But they also say they are protesting for other black people who have died after encounters with police.
“It just becomes too many times, and it just hits a certain point and I feel like everyone is fed up," Sy said. "It started this year with Ahmaud Arbery, a black young man just jogging. I’m a track runner — that hit very close to home. Because how am I supposed to go on jogs, having to worry about my life?”
Protester Marjan Naderi was part of a team that brought water, masks, refreshments and a solution to treat tear gas exposure for other protesters. She said it was important for her to do what she could to support fellow demonstrators.
"As human beings, we have an innate sense to seek justice and bring justice to the ground," she said. "And because it’s such a powerful feeling, we initially forget to care for ourselves as humans." She said it becomes necessary "to step back and say, ‘OK, in order to continuously protest, we have to keep the momentum and give energy and give food and care for our people as one,’ regardless of where it comes from."
Crowds remained in front of the White House well after the curfew both Tuesday and Wednesday nights, as protesters actively worked to keep the peace as they raised their voices.