WASHINGTON - The end of 2015 was marked by an issue that has dominated the news this year. A massive protest held by the Black Lives Matter group shut down an intersection in Chinatown and closed off traffic for blocks Thursday night.
At the outset, this was a peaceful demonstration. It was a large gathering of upwards of 500 people.
Protesters said they wanted to use New Year’s Eve as a way to draw attention not only to the deaths of Tamir Rice and Sandra Bland that drew national attention, but also deaths of young people in Washington D.C. like Alonzo Smith and Rafael Briscoe.
Demonstrators briefly took over and shut down the intersection at 7th and H Street in Northwest D.C. forming a circle as police shut down other streets to allow the protest to proceed.
From there, the protest went on the move as they marched west down H Street calling for police reforms and an end to what they see is violence against African Americans.
Protesters said they were pleased with the turnout on this night, but have more work to do in 2016.
"There was a lot of positive energy that was rounded up out there and not just black,” said Malick Stewart. “It was every type of race. It was gentrified and very well-represented group of people.”
"Obviously, when we say Black Lives Matter, people don't believe us, so we're going to show you for once and for all that we're not giving up the fight," said protester Tiffany Flower.
"Maybe we haven't done enough protest,” said Marshall Scoot. “But we're going to keep going, we're going to keep trying until it does stop.”
D.C. police were on the scene for all of this, but kept their distance to allow the protest to proceed. Police blocked off streets ahead and behind the protesters to allow them to be in the street and not have to deal with vehicle traffic.