(TMU) – A man in Washington, DC, selflessly opened the doors to his home up to dozens of protesters overnight Tuesday after he claims police officers assaulted and pepper-sprayed a group of over 200 protesters following the start of the overnight curfew in the nation’s capital.
Over eight hours late, just minutes after the 6 a.m. curfew expired, more than 60 hours emerged from the three-story home to cheer and give enthusiastic applause to the home’s owner, Rahul Dubey.
Dubey, a 44-year-old Indian-American who’s lived in DC for 17 years, immediately acted on instinct when he saw the protesters being brutally dispersed as police beat them mercilessly while trying to flee the scene.
Meka, 22, was protesting peacefully that night before he claims police officers walled off both sides of Swann Street in northwest DC, he told Buzzfeed.
It was at that point that police “just started charging” at the group, “pushing and hitting” them while pepper spraying them and preventing them from leaving.
— Ken Duffy (@KenDuffyNews) June 2, 2020
It was at that point that Dubey, barely able to stomach what he was witnessing from his front porch, flung open the doors to his 1,500-square-foot home.
He is now being described as a “hero” and “absolute legend” for the act.
“I flung open the door, and I grabbed the railing and started pushing people into my house,” Dubey told Esquire. “It was like a human tsunami of people that the cops were pushing into my street, and the overflow was coming into my house.
“All I kept on yelling was ‘Get in! Get in!’ I kept saying, ‘Get downstairs! Get upstairs!”
One witness saw the entire scene, and told News4:
“They charged all the way up into this man’s door and maced everybody coming into this house … Thank goodness for us in the house we’re safe, we’re ok. But there’s no way for us to get out of this house and not get arrested.”
Dramatic video and photos from the scene indeed depict MPD officers violently boxing in and beating protesters before arresting many of them for violating the citywide curfew.
Tense situation on Swann Street in DC. Cops surrounded protesters and started firing pepper spray. A resident let more than 100 protesters take shelter in his home. “I’m not letting any of these kids out of my sight,” he told me over the phone. pic.twitter.com/Bk6NOIbAwf
— Derek Hawkins (@D_Hawk) June 2, 2020
THE POLICE BOXED IN A GROUP OF PEACEFUL PROTESTERS AND THEN STARTED HITTING AND MACING PEOPLE. A MAN TOOK SOME OF US INTO HIS HOUSE AND THE POLICE HAVE US TRAPPED. THERE ARE PEOPLE STILL TRAPPED IN THE STREET ON 15th AND SWANN pic.twitter.com/H2B2QCup1o
— Meka (@MekaFromThe703) June 2, 2020
The violence came just after President Donald Trump gave a stark warning to protesters across the country that many perceived as a declaration of war: no longer would he tolerate the unrest, which he described as being provoked by “professional anarchists, violent mobs, or, arsonists, looters, criminals, rider rioters, Antifa and others.” Instead, he would “end the riots and lawlessness” using military force, if necessary.
Trump also announced that he would dispatch massive amounts of armed personnel to Washington, DC, and strictly enforce the 7:00 p.m. curfew declared by the city.
The menacing speech was followed by police gassing a large crowd of peaceful protesters near the White House so that the president could get a now-controversial photo op holding a Bible outside the church.
DC Police Chief Peter Newsham claims that the officers had swarmed the area to enforce the curfew, but he denied that officers used pepper spray, describing it as part of the “misinformation” being spread on social media.
“Officers saw behavior consistent with behavior that preceded the very violent activity two night before when we actually had a Metropolitan Police Department that was set on fire,” Newsham said.
He later told NBC4 Washington that the department would “take a very, very close look to ensure that the police were respectful and responsible, professional and constitutional, in conducting those arrests.”
But Dubey described the scene as more akin to as completely chaotic and something he’d expect in “a hostage situation.”
Speaking to Esquire, he explained:
“They were shooting pepper spray in through the window.
“That was mayhem for about an hour and fifteen minutes, and then as soon as I stepped onto the front porch, [the police] said, ‘Get back in the house, or we’ll put you down,’ and I said, ‘Look, I got a bunch of people in here.’
“They said, ‘Get the fuck back inside.’ I waited about an hour, and I went back out and said, ‘I request to talk to somebody,’ and they said, ‘We told you to get back. Get back or we’ll fucking arrest you,’ so I went back in the house.”
In the meantime, the desperate people who had just narrowly escaped the onslaught were trying to relieve the effects of the pepper spray that police had unloaded on them. According to Dubey, when he went upstairs his new guests were running water in the bathtub so that they could splash some water in their faces.
“It was chaotic … People were screaming, crying, and coughing.”
MPD promised that no one would get arrested if they ordered food for the hungry protesters trapped inside but now cops are refusing to let the driver deliver the food.
Here is the resident of the house who voluntarily took in the protesters negotiating with police for food. pic.twitter.com/2X8iQgztu4
— Alex Taliadoros (@AlexCTaliadoros) June 2, 2020
Police later tried to dupe the protesters by sending plainclothes officer to the front door who urged them to leave through the back alley, where they could safely escape. “I mean, bullshit stuff,” Dubey said. They also kept a pizza delivery guy away from the home for an hour, and sent a cop to respond to a fake 911 call over a supposed medical emergency. It was as if the home was under siege.
At some point, however, “some magic took place,” Dubey said.
Unsurprisingly, especially for a group of about 75 people aged 20 to 50, pizza was a part of the magic.
“I had to do a covert pizza operation,” Dubey said with a laugh.
Thanks to some kind strangers on the internet, Dubey was able to score enough pizza for everyone from his favorite local pie spot, Duccini’s. And as a part of the magic, even the pizza delivery guy played his role.
“I’m delirious, but it’s beautiful,” Dubey said. “It’s absurd that I had to get some stranger to hand me pizza over my back fence through police brigade, but it also shows the human spirit, too, and that’s what this is all about.”
Beyond the sanctuary that Dubey’s home became, however, officers had cornered protesters in a “little square” and were arresting them.
still arresting people outside pic.twitter.com/Gf5ICYptjB
— Meka (@MekaFromThe703) June 2, 2020
Meka, Dubey, and others began to quickly publicize their ordeal on social media. MPD Chief Newsham angrily responded that their information was “completely innacurate.”
Eight hours later, Dubey’s guests were finally free to leave – and they didn’t get arrested on their way home, as they feared.
The event was nerve-wracking, Dubey said. Nevertheless, the group was “an amazing group of people that were gathered here peacefully.”
Rahul saved lives last night. He ended this with an inspirational speech about not giving up and keeping up the peaceful fight. What a guy. Thank you Rahul. #SwannStreet #savejenny pic.twitter.com/e0SETLcSpw
— BLACKLIVESMATTER (@kikivonfreaki) June 2, 2020
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