WASHINGTON—As Washington’s authorities brace for violence over Supreme Court verdicts, activist planners told followers not to oppose violence.
At a Sunday meeting hosted in Petworth United Methodist Church and run by the organizing group, Shut Down DC, several activist leaders announced that violence was counterproductive to their group’s own strategy, but not necessarily bad.
Shut Down DC plans to blockade the U.S. Supreme Court so that justices cannot enter on Monday.
The activist group is protesting in response to a leaked Supreme Court draft that suggests the court plans to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“We’re not in the business of telling people what to do,” said longtime activist Nadine Bloch. “We are in the business of pointing out the structural violence of the system. If people don’t like other people’s tactics, fix the system. We’re not going to condemn those other tactics.”
The remark was given in the context of a training day during which organizers explained to protesters what to do if people showed up and encouraged violence, among other scenarios.
“If you want to do property destruction, do it in secret. If you’re doing it publicly, you’re probably an infiltrator,” Bloch said. “There’s no condemnation of bringing the system down.”
Another activist, Sadie, said that protest “action groups” can split into “red teams” and “green teams” if violence starts. The “red teams” could start violence, while the “green team” could provide cover and be “eyes and ears” on the “red team,” she said.
Shut Down DC’s main organizer, Patrick Young, suggested that people go and start violence away from the main body of the group.
“Y’all should go somewhere else and do that,” he said.
One of the activists, a man who called himself Rusty, said that he has stolen banners from politicians and that the group will repaint them to use in the protest.
“If anybody needs a banner, like a nice heavy-duty banner, I’ve been stealing politicians’ banners from all over town,” Rusty said. “They’ve got white backs, you can spray paint whatever you want on, I’ve probably gotten, like, 10 of them.”
None of the activists at the meeting called him out for admitting to theft.
Washington authorities have said that they will increase police presence and are urging visitors to the city not to bring guns.
“We are increasing our presence to have coverage in neighborhoods and our downtown areas, which includes the activation of civil disturbance unit platoons,” Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said at a press conference. “In addition, we are working closely with our law enforcement, government, and community partners to ensure that all of these events are peaceful and our neighborhoods are safe.”
The FBI has also said it will not “tolerate violence, destruction, interference with government functions, or trespassing on government property.”
The activist group at the church included 17 activists, but leaders said they expected hundreds of people to show up tomorrow to block off the entrances to the U.S. Supreme Court. Most wore name tags with their first names.
Of the 17 activists, 15 were white, and 10 were women.
Activist Hope Neyer told the group that the history of pro-abortion movements was too white and too woman-focused.
Pro-abortion groups now need to include women who claim to be men by dropping language about “women’s rights,” said Neyer.
The activists planned to meet at 7 a.m. at Stanton Park, then march down Maryland Ave. to block the Supreme Court’s entrances.
Activists at the meeting also discussed how to catch media attention.
“If you’re being dragged away, who’s going to watch?” one of the activists said. “The press. The media. Everyone here needs to have a sound bite. You have a chance to talk to the nation seriously.”
The 17 protesters practiced marching in the park outside Petworth United Methodist Church. Some pretended to be “police” and attempted to “arrest” marchers and prevent them from passing through the park. Others practiced marching around police lines, sitting with linked arms to resist arrest, and responding to police attempts to carry them away by going limp.
In every exercise, the mock-up “police” successfully prevented activists from nearing their destination by setting up a line near the halfway point.
For Monday’s protest, Nadine advised protesters to consider wearing adult diapers so they could relieve themselves without leaving the Supreme Court.
Many of the protesters said they planned to stay until 5 .p.m. in hopes that more people would join the protest after work ended.