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National Guard federal agent patrol Washington DC George Floyd protest

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  • Thousands of demonstrators returned to downtown Washington, DC, on Tuesday for a fifth night of protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
  • Tuesday was the second night the city was under curfew and followed violent confrontations on Monday night. But while Tuesday appeared to be the largest gathering so far, it also seemed to be the calmest.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

National Guard troops, federal law-enforcement agents, and local police took position around Washington, DC, on Tuesday, the city’s second day with a curfew and the fifth straight day of protests over the killing of George Floyd by police during an arrest in Minnesota.

The Trump administration has threatened to deploy active-duty troops to cities across the country, including DC, where the federal government has expansive authority. The administration has so far stopped short of that.

But about 1,200 members of the District of Columbia National Guard, as well as several hundred guardsmen from other states, are now in the city. On Tuesday, many of them were alongside federal agents from the FBI and Department of Justice, some dressed in tactical gear. Customs and Border Patrol, the Secret Service, and the US Park Police have also deployed personnel, especially around the White House.

DC June 2 protest photos

Workers board up windows at the National Guard Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, June 2, 2020.

Christopher Woody/Business Insider


Protestors began gathering near the White House early on Tuesday afternoon, and buildings throughout the city were boarded up during the day, trying to avoid the damage done to other buildings on previous nights.

National Guard troops and federal agents blocked off intersections and directed traffic in the neighborhoods around the White House, including the street just west of the Friendship Archway in the city’s Chinatown district.

DC June 2 protest photos

National Guard members and federal agents in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, DC, June 2, 2020.

Christopher Woody/Business Insider


In addition to military vehicles in the street, National Guard members and other federal law-enforcement agents were standing along the street immediately west of the arch.

When asked, one agent would only say he and the several others — dressed green fatigues and wearing tactical vests — were with the Department of Justice and that several of them were carrying paintball guns for crowd control.

DC June 2 protest photos

A Humvee and another tactical vehicle in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, DC, June 2, 2020.

Christopher Woody/Business Insider


Agents from the Bureau of Prisons and the Drug Enforcement Administration, both part of the Justice Department, were also deployed around the city.

While the DEA’s authority is normally limited to drug-related federal crimes, it has been given permission to “conduct covert surveillance” and collect intelligence on protestors.

Uniformed police and National Guard members were stationed around the National Portrait Gallery, and businesses, restaurants, and landmarks in the area were also completely or partially boarded up, including Ford’s Theater.

DC June 2 protest photos

Law-enforcement agents by a boarded-up Shake Shake near the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, June 2, 2020.

Christopher Woody/Business Insider


With many businesses still closed and many people working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, streets around downtown DC have been emptier, even more so in recent days due to the protests.

Police and military vehicles were parked between Pennsylvania and Constitution avenues, just north of the National Mall, as people streamed toward the White House to join other protestors.

At one point early on Tuesday evening, a phalanx of DC police on bicycles road east toward Capitol Hill. National Guard members took up position elsewhere on the Mall, including an imposing group in camouflage on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

DC June 2 protest photos

Military personnel facing protestors from inside Lafayette Park near the White House, June 2, 2020.

Christopher Woody/Business Insider


Demonstrators gathered on H Street, north of Lafayette Square, from which they had been violently expelled by police and National Guard troops on Monday evening. Protestors in front of the square marked the 7 p.m. curfew by kneeling, and it passed without incident.

The gathering mostly remained calm. When people began to rattle and bang on the fence separating them from the square, others admonished them. Throughout the evening some handed out water and food or made signs.

DC June 2 protest photos

National Guard members at an intersection north of the White House, alongside DEA agents and other officers, June 2, 2020.

Christopher Woody/Business Insider


On 16th Street, several blocks north of the White House, bored-looking National Guard members stood around alongside federal officers, including at least one DEA agent.

One guardsman said it had been an uneventful day, calling it “peaceful” and “a nice protest.”

A few blocks north, DC police wearing what appeared to riot gear chatted among themselves on the steps of a building. One smoked a cigarette while another sat off to the side, making a phone call using earbuds.

DC June 2 protest photos

A Black Hawk helicopter flies over an intersection several blocks north of the White House, June 2, 2020.

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The hum of helicopters over the city was a constant throughout Tuesday night. At one point around 8 p.m. a Black Hawk helicopter circled over the intersection at 16th Street and L Street.

The Black Hawk did not fly nearly as low as helicopters did on Monday night, when several, including one with a Red Cross emblem, appeared to target protestors with downdraft from their rotors.

The commanding general of DC’s National Guard said Tuesday there would be an investigation of “the actions of our rotary aviation assets” on June 1.

DC June 2 protest photos

National Guard members and at least one DEA agent at an intersection near downtown Washington, DC, June 2, 2020.

Christopher Woody/Business Insider


In addition to the roughly 2,000 National Guard troops in DC, the Pentagon moved 1,600 soldiers to bases around the city on Tuesday.

Among those soldiers are military police from Fort Bragg in North Carolina and from Fort Drum in New York, as well as an infantry battalion from the 82nd Airborne Division’s Immediate Response Force, a crisis-response force that most recently deployed on short notice to the Middle East in January.

All 1,600 of them arrived in the DC area within the last 24 hours but are not currently “participating in defense support to civil authority operations,” a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday.

DC June 2 protest photos

National Guard members with a Humvee and federal agents with other vehicles block off an intersection near downtown Washington, DC, June 2, 2020.

Christopher Woody/Business Insider


National Guard members and federal agents, many from the DEA, remained stationed along Massachusetts Avenue as the evening went on.

Guardsmen and DEA agents at the intersection of 10th Street and Massachusetts, by the Cato Institute think tank, said they’d been there all day and that the streets had been blocked off to halt vehicle traffic to parts of the city where there had been looting and damage to buildings.

But, they emphasized, streets were still open to pedestrians as well as those on bikes or scooters.

DC June 2 protest photos

A Humvee and another vehicle blocking an intersection near downtown Washington, DC, June 2, 2020.

Christopher Woody/Business Insider


Some demonstrators said that the gathering Tuesday appeared to be the biggest so far but also the calmest.

A number of participants told local news outlet DCist it was their first night attending. Mike Whitfield said he came out because he thought he could help other people if they were pepper sprayed, which he said he experienced while in the military.

“I want to make sure I can help as many people as possible,” Whitfield told DCist.

DC June 2 protest photos

A Humvee and another vehicle blocking an intersection near the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, June 2, 2020.

Christopher Woody/Business Insider


While there were few signs of the violent confrontations that marked Monday evening, there were tense moments as well as reports of property destruction.

As the night wore on, protestors began to move north, and the number in front of the White House dwindled. At one point, they passed a line of people waiting to vote in DC’s primary.

Voters are exempt from the 7 p.m. curfew, and many had to wait hours to cast their ballots.

DC June 2 protest photos

National Guard members and other federal agents blocking an intersection near the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, June 2, 2020.

Christopher Woody/Business Insider


The early-morning hours on Wednesday did see military police launch pepper spray at protestors banging on the fence of Lafayette Square. But overall, Tuesday evening differed dramatically from the clashes and tension of Monday night.

Elsewhere in the city, DEA agents and other federal officers stood idly, their zip ties still tucked into their vests. There were 19 arrests in the city during the night, most of them for breaking the curfew, the DC police chief said Wednesday.

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