12 Hours of Total Mayhem: A D.C. Black Lives Matter Protestor Speaks Out

Rose Minutaglio
Photo credit: Getty Images

From ELLE

When 34-year-old bartender Allison Lane arrived at the rally against police brutality and racism outside the White House on Monday, a sea of people were chanting "Say his name: George Floyd!"

It was the fourth day of protests in D.C. to demand justice for 46-year-old Floyd, who was killed on May 25 after Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin pinned him to the ground and pressed his knee into his neck, while Floyd pleaded for help and repeatedly said he couldn't breathe.

But roughly a half-hour before a 7 p.m. curfew went into effect, the once-peaceful night spiraled into a discordant spectacle. Officials converged on the unarmed and peaceful demonstrators to clear a path so that President Trump could visit St. John’s Episcopal Church for what The Washington Post describes as "an elaborate photo op" with a Bible.

The advance was sudden and violent. Smoke filled the air. Rubber bullets were fired. And chemical canisters spewing gas left people bent-over, coughing and vomiting into the streets.

"It all still feels, like, just unbelievable," Lane tells ELLE.com. "I'm like, 'No way this could have happened? But it did, and people need to know what happened."

Everyone dispersed, scrambling for safety. Some were flushed onto Connecticut Avenue. One group ran to the World War II Memorial. Narrowly escaping a flashbang grenade, Lane was pushed north to the Dupont Circle neighborhood, where she says Metropolitan Police Department officers "corralled" her onto a narrow, one-way residential street.

"Go, go, go! Go in!" someone shouted at her, pointing to a row house on Swann Street. So she did, right past the front door being held open by a salt-and-pepper-haired hero in a white t-shirt and plaid scarf. The man, Rahul Dubey, opened his residence to 75 other protestors that night, promising to let them stay “as long as it takes."

"Rahul was so nice, like, a true a hero," Lane says. "It was chaotic and confusing and just really scary and he was there for us in that moment."

Every inch of Dubey's three-story, 1600 square feet home was packed—from basement to backyard. Inside, a triage system set up by protesters helped treat the wounded. A man was pouring milk on someone in the kitchen. Someone handed out homemade eyewash solution for those seared by pepper spray. A woman named Jenny live-streamed it all to Instagram, inspiring the trending hashtag #savejenny.

Over the next eight hours, cops posing as protestors tried to coax people to come out, Lane says. Helicopters circled overhead, looking for stragglers. One officer even tried to persuade Dubey to make his guests leave, but he refused. Video shared by reporters at the scene showed police boxing in a group of demonstrators outside. Two of Lane's friends were among the 194 people reportedly arrested for breaking curfew that night. D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham has said that he will "take a very, very close look to ensure that the police were respectful and responsible, professional and constitutional, in conducting those arrests," according to NBC Washington.

Lane documented it all in a Twitter thread, which was liked 168,000 times and shared by 54,000 people.



At midnight, Dubey ordered pizza for everyone. The delivery was allowed through the barricades. Someone else brought in donuts and bottled water. Coffee got passed over the fence. Around 3 a.m., a neighbor slipped a note through the window that read: "We're with you!"

Still, the phalanxes of police lingered, encircling the house until sunrise.

"Just waiting this out," Lane tweeted.

When the curfew finally lifted at 6 a.m. cops retreated and the helicopters flew away. Protestors helped Dubey take out the trash and recycle pizza boxes, before the Freedom Fighters of D.C. organized cars to pick everyone up. Supporters had left flowers, picture of Floyd, and thank-you cards on Dubey's stoop.

Back home, Lane washed off the pepper spray and crawled into bed. It all felt like a bad dream. But none of it—not the rubber bullets, the tear gas, the flashbangs, the police kettling, the arrests—could stop her. The next day Lane went out and protested again.

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