City officials Tuesday slapped a nighttime curfew on a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood wracked by two nights of violence. Calm prevailed in the streets as police maintained heavy patrols.
The curfew - the second in two nights - was announced after Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon met with police and National Guard officials to consider ways of preventing a recurrence of the street clashes in which youths threw rocks and bottles at police, set fires and looted businesses in the neighborhood and surrounding area.The trouble started Sunday night after 30-year-old Daniel Enrique Gomez was wounded by a policewoman who was trying to arrest him and several others in a dispute over drinking in public.
Police said he attacked the policewoman with a knife.Some neighborhood residents evidently believed Gomez was handcuffed at the time and thus could not have drawn a knife. Police said the fact that others being arrested at the same time were handcuffed could have caused confusion.
Gomez was listed in critical condition in a Washington hospital. He was charged with assaulting a police officer.
City Administrator Jack Bond said the curfew would be imposed between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. "There is a very pronounced police presence in the community, the police took charge and they have not left," he added.
The curfew would be the second in two nights in the area about two miles from the White House. More than 50 people were arrested before daybreak following Dixon's decision to impose a curfew Monday night.
The streets where youths had thrown rocks and bottles at police for two nights were clean Tuesday. Long gone, too, was the smoke from police tear gas canisters. The burned-out hulk of a bus was removed just after daybreak.
"We tried to take the streets without having confrontation," the mayor said as she arrived at city hall to meet with officials. "But then when others started setting fires and looting, that's when we had to aggressively start arresting people."
Police cars equipped with bullhorns ordered residents off the streets of the largely Hispanic neighborhood and Dixon ordered the overnight curfew after disturbances began to spread Monday night.
Thirteen police officers were injured and 13 police cars damaged in the melee, authorities said. Fire Chief Ray Alfred Jr. was injured when a brick crashed through the window of his car and hit him in the head. He was not seriously hurt.
Police said about 44 people were arrested for curfew violations, with another seven charged with disorderly conduct.