A protester told CNN that the crowd was marching from the White House on Monday evening and closed in a residential neighborhood where they were boxed in by the police.
The protester, who asked to be identified only as Meka, told CNN that the protest was peaceful and people were just trying to figure out what to do next.
“I guess someone gave an order, and they just started pushing us, spraying the bat, trampling people, and everyone started panicking at the time,” said the 22-year-old college executive.
He looked around and saw his friend climbing the steps into the neighboring house and a man gesturing for the protesters to enter.
“I just ran up the steps going up the steps and just started entering as quickly as possible,” said Meka. “At the moment, I didn’t know if it was the right decision, but I think it was.”
He said he looked out the window and saw more police officers than he could count and that many people were arrested outside.
Metropolitan Police Department head Peter Newsham said Tuesday that none of the protesters inside the house were arrested and that the agents “have been in constant communication with the owner of the house throughout the evening.”
Newsham reported that 300 people were arrested on Monday night, including 194 in the area around Rahul Dubey’s home.
He said he was screaming “come in, get in the house” for about 10 minutes.
Dubey told WJLA that around 70 protesters entered and it was “pandemonium and chaos” for about an hour and a half as they tried to settle down and help people who had been sprinkled with pepper.
CNN was unable to contact Dubey for comment.
Meka told CNN that he was unable to sleep Monday night and that the police tried several times to persuade the protesters to leave.
He said that at one point Dubey was able to get the pizza delivered and that some members of the community also brought food.
Becca Thimmesch lives about two blocks from Dubey and said she and three other people stayed overnight to watch police activity and check in with protesters.
He said they also worked to organize trips to bring young people home after the curfew.
“Then around five, with an hour of curfew, community members began showing up left and right bringing food and water and hand sanitizer and their cars and offering to take people,” Thimmesch said.
He said they had more volunteers than they needed when the protesters came out, so many of them stayed and helped clean up.
Thimmesch said he saw many other residents on the street bringing protesters into their homes.
“There is currently a global pandemic, and we have been told, ‘don’t let people stay at your house, don’t share space with people,'” he said. “And you know, these random people did what I consider a huge sacrifice to try to ensure the safety of young people they didn’t know.”
Dubey told WJLA that he considers the young protesters’ family and that he has been relieved to receive messages and messages that were all safe at home.
“I hope my 13-year-old son grows up to be just as amazing as they are,” he said.
“I hope they continue to fight and I hope that they go out peacefully today, as they did yesterday, and they don’t blink because our country needs them, and needs you and everyone more than ever at the moment.”
Lauren Koenig of CNN contributed to this story.
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