- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 6, 2020

Washington, D.C. organizations are opening their doors to Black Lives Matter protesters amid large demonstrations that are anticipated this weekend, soon after shutting doors on federal law enforcement.

With large protests expected on Saturday, a host of organizations in the nation’s capital announced on social media platforms that they would shelter protesters and used #OpenYourLobby to encourage others to do likewise.

Arena Stage, a theater in the multibillion-dollar development Wharf neighborhood, closed its doors because of coronavirus earlier this year but is opening up its lobby this weekend specifically for protesters.

“Our lobby (1101 6th St. SW, D.C.) will be open today and tomorrow (6/6 and 6/7) from 12-5 p.m. for protesters,” tweeted Arena Stage on Saturday. “We have water, snacks and restrooms will be available. Staff will be on hand to maintain safety guidelines and ensure social distancing. #openyourlobby.” 

Many other venues are participating in the #OpenYourLobby efforts and social justice actions this weekend, including the Shakespeare Theatre Company, the Dacha Beer Garden, and Union Pub that tweeted it is partnering with St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill, a Roman Catholic parish. Social justice activists have created a Google Map with a list of participating venues for protesters needing sustenance or shelter this weekend. 

The D.C. organizations’ decision to assist protesters comes amid D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser pushing federal law enforcement and military personnel to leave the nation’s capital. On Thursday, Ms. Bowser wrote to President Trump to request that he remove federal law enforcement and the military presence from Washington and said she was ending the state of emergency related to protests in the city.

Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, said Friday that the mayor’s actions evicted 200 Utah National Guard specialists from a hotel in D.C. soon after they came off duty in the nation’s capital.

“Evicting Utah National Guard personnel from their hotels after a late-night shift risking their lives to protect Washington is a shameful, petty, discrediting decision by Mayor Bowser,” Mr. Lee said in a statement on Friday. “Our Utah guardsmen are consummate professionals who are not complaining in the slightest. But their labor and sacrifice on behalf of Washingtonians deserves better than this embarrassing spectacle.”

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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