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Activists Use Capitol as Backdrop to Protest Police-Involved Deaths

Protesters rallied outside the Capitol at 8 a.m. Monday morning. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)
Protesters rallied outside the Capitol at 8 a.m. Monday morning. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Activists protesting police-involved deaths in Ferguson, Mo., New York and elsewhere rallied Monday morning on Capitol Hill.  

“As we celebrate a black man in the White House, we continue to mourn the lives of black and latino men, black women and black children who are slain by police and then systematically denied justice,” said Zoe Spencer, a D.C. resident who sat on the East Front, clutching a small, white bullhorn. Spencer and about 20 others arrived on the Hill at 7:30 a.m. for the first part of a long day of protests that will include a four-hour “die-in” in front of the Justice Department. She said the action was part of an “anti-lynching” campaign. The rally at the Capitol was planned to call international attention to alleged human rights abuses.  

Capitol Police have been monitoring protest activity near the grounds in the wake of grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York. The Dec. 3 decision not to indict a white officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, a black man who was being arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes, has ignited tensions around the District. Protesters blocked roadways over the past week uniting around the slogan: “Black Lives Matter.”  

After 30 minutes of demonstrating on the East Front with signs memorializing lives lost in police shootings, the crowd tried to move closer to the Capitol. An officer calmly told the demonstrators to return to the streets. The group marched down the northbound lane of First Street, heading past the Supreme Court, and turned on Constitution Avenue, bound for downtown.  


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