DC resident gives overnight shelter to 60 protesters who were 'corralled' by police

A Washington, D.C., resident allowed more than 60 protesters to stay in his home overnight after he said they were being pepper-sprayed by police.
/ Source: TODAY

A local man opened the door of his home to dozens of protesters in Washington, D.C., who sought refuge from police he said were beating and pepper-spraying them on Monday night.

Rahul Dubey welcomed more than 60 people into his three-story row home in northwest Washington until the citywide curfew lifted at 6 a.m. on Tuesday during ongoing nationwide protests about the death of George Floyd.

"I don't think that there was even a choice in what I did,'' Dubey told NBC Washington. "To be honest, it was very instinct and that's not really what happened here. What happened here was an amazing group of people ranging from 50 years old to 18 years old that were gathered here peacefully and were absolutely decimated and beaten on the steps of my house."

Dubey said he witnessed police pushing and pepper-spraying people on his street, and that he was also pepper-sprayed as he opened his door to let them inside.

"The crowd just came racing through like a tornado,'' he said. "I flung the door open and until that subsided, we had to keep the door open and just kept grabbing people and pulling them in. It's the same that you would if it's a storm and you would've let anyone into your home."

Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham said at a news conference Tuesday that there was "misinformation" spread about the incident, but did not comment directly on allegations that police were pushing and pepper-spraying the people who ran into Dubey's home.

Police made 194 arrests in that northwest area of the city, the majority of them after "multiple warnings" for violation of the citywide 7 p.m. curfew, according to Newsham. Dubey said the protesters came into his house about two hours after the curfew.

"I think there was a lot of misinformation after some of the folks that could have potentially arrested went into the home," Newsham said. "I can say that some of the information that was put out on Twitter and other social media platforms, was completely inaccurate, at least from what we saw.

"But of course whenever you have those type of allegations, we'll go back and take a very, very close look to ensure that the police were respectful and responsible, professional and constitutional in conducting those arrests. Every indication that I had is when the arrests were being effectuated, there was no resistance by anyone who was being arrested."

One of the protesters shared video of the scene inside Dubey's home on Twitter and said Dubey gave them all his business cards so that they couldn't be accused of breaking into his house.

Another person who took shelter in Dubey's house told NBC Washington that police "corralled" them on the street before using pepper spray.

The protesters safely left Dubey's home after 6 a.m. on Tuesday, many of them with raised fists. None of the people who stayed at Dubey's home were arrested, Newsham said at the news conference.

Dubey strongly disagreed with the tactics of the police, who blocked in protesters about two hours after a 7 p.m. curfew had gone into effect.

"If the law is using ultimate force to push back people and pepper-spray without being instigated and pinning them into a one-way street and knowing that you can't get out, that is not acceptable,'' he said. "If I did anything wrong by opening up my door, I would love for people to contact me."

He maintained that the demonstrators were peaceful and not causing any issues.

"These ... 20-somethings and 30-somethings that were there, they were doing nothing wrong other than organizing and fighting to build a future that they want, that I want, that you want, so they did nothing wrong,'' he said.

An unidentified neighbor of Dubey's was heartened to hear about the gesture toward the demonstrators.

"DC is definitely a very forward-thinking city, but also it's very neighborly,'' the man told NBC Washington. "We don't get enough credit for being neighborly, we show up for the people around us, and I'm very glad to see that we lived up to that reputation here."

Dubey remained energized on Tuesday morning after the long night in his home.

"We're vulnerable right now as a country, as a group, as a population, but I guarantee you, we're gonna be great coming out of this."