Washington D.C., June 6 — protestors were protesting peacefully in Washington, D.C., earlier this week, over George Floyds death, many suddenly found themselves “trapped” by police officers on either end of a street in northwest Washington DC. And on that very street, an Indian American man opened his door to let demonstrators in.
Forty-four-year-old Rahul Dubey not just welcomed but also sheltered more than 70 protesters for over eight hours inside his home, spread across three floors, to avoid peaceful protestors from being arrested by DC Metropolitan Police Department officers.
Born and raised in the United States, Dubey’s parents hail from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. Even though Rahul has not visited India for the last 20 years, this first-generation Indian American is overwhelmed by the love and appreciation he has received from the people in India, movie stars and even an appreciation tweet from his namesake- Rahul Gandhi.
“Thank you Rahul Dubey for opening your heart and your home to the weak and the oppressed,” Gandhi wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
Under self-quarantine for the next 14 days, Dubey agreed to do a virtual interview with ANI. He said that he acted on instinct after seeing protesters absolutely decimated and beaten on the steps of his house. “It was like a human tsunami coming all the way to my steps, I heard a bang first, some pepper spray, shields crunching people and the worst screeches that I’ve ever heard,” Dubey recalled.
That’s when Dubey flung open his door and said: “Get in the house.” As he hung on to the railing of the door, everyone at the stoop started running into the house.
Dubey said the people in his house ranged from 18 to 50 in age and called them “100 per cent, peaceful and respectful towards each other.”
Scenes inside Rahul Dubey’s home were chaotic. After law enforcement had pushed the protestors down the street, firing chemicals at them, protestors came coughing up the stairs and for the next hour and a half, there was pure pandemonium. Police pepper-sprayed into the windows making the first, second floor and the basement completely smoke-filled with pepper spray and people gasping. “People were treating each other pouring milk, water and baking soda on each other’s faces to subside the burning and holding onto each other,” Dubey told ANI.
As the chaos subsided, most protesters stayed at Dubey’s home until the city’s curfew ended at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning. “I saw humanity across eight hours… There wasn’t a single argument, no one raised their voice, no one got in a fight. Now tell me is that the behaviour of looters and rioters absolutely not!” Dubey said.
Asked if at any point he was worried about contracting coronavirus – since he welcomed dozens of people home. “I just throw the question back to the probability of getting COVID or witnessing a guaranteed genocide, it was a very simple decision. I didn’t even think about COVID until about six hours into it,” Dubey told ANI.
Dubey says it’s overwhelming to see the love India has shown to him. “I haven’t been back in 20 years and I’m embarrassed by that to be a hero to a country that’s a stranger to me.. but I look forward to coming back and really seeing a lot of India thank you very much for the love and support,” he said.