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D.C. police chief thanks peaceful protesters, says 17 arrests were made, 11 officers hurt

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 5/31/2020 Courtney Pomeroy, ABC7
Peter Newsham wearing a white shirt © Provided by WJLA – Washington D.C.

Following a night of chaos in D.C., which started out as peaceful protesting, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham on Sunday afternoon thanked some demonstrators and outlined the damage done by others.

"Prior to last night, the demonstrations around the tragic death of George Floyd in our city were largely peaceful and done so in a safe and respectful way, without destroying city property or harming people," he said. "Unfortunately, yesterday that changed."

Newsham said the Metropolitan Police Department (which was not the only law enforcement represented in the city Saturday night) made 17 arrests. One arrestee was from Chesterfield, Va., three were from Alexandria, Va., one was from Woodbridge, Va., four either had no fixed address or an address was unable to be determined, and the eight remaining had some ties to or live in Washington, D.C.

PHOTOS: Fire, blood & destruction in the nation's capital during George Floyd protest

Fourteen were charged with rioting, two were charged with burglary and one was charged with simple assault. The chief says he does not anticipate these will be the only arrests made.

"The downtown business district in Washington, D.C. has a very sophisticated and expansive video system," he said. Footage will be reviewed to see if arsonists, looters, and others can be identified.

ABC7 crews witnessed multiple store break-ins, building fires, and vehicle fires Saturday night into early Sunday morning.

Newsham said 11 officers were injured and while none sustained life-threatening injuries, one did suffer a compound leg fracture and is undergoing surgery Sunday. He added that 29 MPD vehicles were damaged.

The chief thanked protesters who demonstrated peacefully.

"I want to thank those, including our local Black Lives Matter group, who held a very large but peaceful car caravan throughout our city," he said.

He continued:

We always, in Washington, D.C., welcome peaceful protests. It's necessary in our American society. But we can't have people coming into our city who are going to destroy property or hurt people.

Newsham said the department is prepared for more protests in the coming days and hopes they can remain peaceful.

When asked why the city has not instituted a curfew, like some other major cities, Mayor Muriel Bowser said: 

We know that the people who were destructive last night are not likely curfew followers. And so the chief's deployment plan will address how to deal with crowds and certainly how to deal with splinter groups that split off from the main crowd.

Watch  Newsham and Bowser's full remarks in the video above.

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