Rahul Dubey, the man who sheltered more than 70 protesters in his Washington, D.C., home Monday night told CBSN his actions were purely “instinctual.” Others have called them heroic.
“It was unfathomable,” Dubey said Friday of the police violence used against peaceful protesters right outside his front door. He called what he saw a “horrific use of force” against people who were out after the city’s curfew.
According to Dubey, police used batons, shields and pepper spray to push people back. He said people were being hit as they ran away.
The chaotic night began around 8:45, past curfew, when Dubey said he heard a loud bang about 30 yards from his stoop, followed by a stream of protesters trying to escape police. “Pounding of batons, cracking of shields, screaming, screeches that were — that I still remember, faces gnarled… police spraying people in the back of the heads,” he said, describing the scene.
Dubey opened his door to people, letting them fill up his home in the Logan Circle neighborhood.
“What ended up happening is the police pushed all the people past my stoop, and at that moment there was nothing left in that wake and I was able to shut the door, get everybody in that I needed to,” he said.
Once everyone was inside, he began helping attend to injuries amongst the protesters. “Coughing, couldn’t breathe, crying. It was a total nightmare of an hour and a half inside the house” he said.
Around 11 p.m. he said the large group began planning how to leave the home safely. Dubey said the group was mostly strangers, but was “self-managing” and working together to plan the best course of action.
He said it became clear that police were still nearby, making it impossible for everyone to exit peaceably.
“At 12:30, we made the decision that it was going to be virtually impossible to trust the police who were trying to get in the house illegally, who were trying to trick us, who hijacked our pizza,” he said. “So I said to them: ‘Everyone is welcome to stay here till 6 o’clock, we’re going to figure out how to get you home.”
Dubey said the 70 protesters had insightful conversations as they “hunkered down” for nearly nine hours waiting for curfew to lift.
“It was more of the solidarity,” he said of the group. “What makes us different is what makes us great as a collective. And we saw that on display in my home with 70 plus amazing souls.”