“We have a lot of public, open-source information to suggest that the event on this upcoming Saturday may be one of the largest that we’ve had in the city,” Washington police Chief Peter Newsham told reporters on Thursday, according to WTOP.
Over the past several days, nationwide protests have become more peaceful following days of riots, looting, arson, and vandalism across various cities, including the U.S. capital.
“We expect that Saturday’s demonstration will, like I said, be more of the same peaceful demonstrators coming to exercise their First Amendment right in Washington, D.C.,” Newsham said.
It came as Mayor Muriel Bowser called on the White House to remove various troops and law enforcement officers out of the city.
“I continue to be concerned that unidentified federal personnel patrolling the streets of Washington, DC pose both safety and national security risks,” Bowser said in a letter Friday in asking President Donald Trump to withdraw “federal law enforcement and military presence” from the city. She said that the personnel is “inflaming demonstrators and adding to the grievances of” people who are protesting against “racist and broken systems that are killing Black Americans.”
Bowser also ordered painters to write “Black Lives Matter” in large yellow letters on 16th Street, located near the White House.
“We simply all want to be here together in peace to demonstrate that in America—you can peacefully assemble, you can bring grievances to your government, and you can demand change,” she told reporters.
However, the gesture didn’t please activists with the group.
“Bowser has consistently been on the wrong side of BLMDC history,” wrote Black Lives Matter DC. “This is to appease white liberals while ignoring our demands. Black Lives Matter means defund the police.”
In Minneapolis, where Floyd died in police custody, the city agreed to ban police chokeholds and require officers to intervene any time they see unauthorized force by another officer. The changes are part of a stipulation between the city and state officials who launched a civil rights investigation into Floyd’s death. The City Council is expected to approve the agreement, which will be enforceable in court, later Friday.
Four former Minneapolis officers were charged in his death, including former officer Derek Chauvin, who was seen kneeling on his neck for about 9 minutes. Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder earlier this week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.