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Fri Jun 5, 2020, 07:01 PM

D.C.'s Street Plan Is A Monument To Democracy

JUN 5, 4:16 PM

D.C.ís Street Plan Is A Monument To Democracy
Abdallah Fayyad

The protest in downtown Washington D.C. crosses I and 17th NW on June 5.

Tyrone Turner / WAMU/DCist

On an especially chaotic night, the U.S. Army flew one of its helicopters so low that trash, signs, and branches whipped around people protesting George Floydís killing in Chinatown. It was a scare tactic that the military uses in combat zones, and it worked: Protesters dispersed, and scattered around downtown blocks, until they eventually reconvened in a group on E Street NW.

Leaderless, they started marching down the road, and most of them didnít know where they were headed. But that changed when they reached New Jersey Avenue NW, and the view of the lit up Capitol dome gave the marchers somewhere to go to protest their government.

While covering these demonstrations every night, Iíve noticed a pattern: Every time law enforcement tried to disorient or disperse crowds, the thousands of protesters were able to reconnect and organize marches on the spot ó finding their way to the White House or Capitol with ease. And thatís not a coincidence; itís in part because of Washington, D.C.ís street grid, in some ways a monument to democracy and republicanism, was designed for just that.

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