Fewer than 80 protesters marched north on Connecticut Avenue, their chants of "Black lives matter!" piquing the curiosity of passersby. One guy told me he'd been riding home from yoga when he caught sight of the demonstration. He'd locked his bike and joined it, though he couldn't provide details on what exactly it was about.
The marchers were not engaged in looting. No fires were set or property damaged as far as I could tell. They succeeded in shutting down intersections as they went along, tailed by a cavalcade of police cars, lights flashing, there to keep the traffic in check.
Although some protesters carried signs calling for the removal of D.C. cops from Baltimore, where violent protests erupted earlier this week, few seemed comfortable discussing the controversy. Nearly everyone I tried to speak to was reticent, refusing to go on the record. The common answer to my queries about what the signs meant, including from the people actually carrying them, was, "I'm not a protest organizer. I don't know anything about that." By and large, the group seemed short on specific grievances, longer on general frustration with the status quo. Some turned their faces away when I started shooting video with my phone.
A young woman, Morgan Franklin, said they were marching to protest a "genocide of black people" and that it wasn't about Baltimore specifically. "It's about a system that teaches police that violence is OK as long as it's against black people, and as long as nobody else sees it."
One highly agitated protester—I didn't get his name—went a step further: "Basically all that [looting in Baltimore] is justified," he said. "Don't get me wrong, they're doing it to the wrong people, to the wrong places. They should be down here [in D.C.] doing it. Where do they get their money at? Corporate America."