Protests in the nation’s capital over the weekend saw the White House surrounded by billowing black clouds of smoke. Throughout Washington DC, the scenes of civil unrest have been a common site. Since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, widespread protests have gripped many American cities.
On Friday, as protesters outside the White House grappled with Secret Service members, Donald Trump and the First Family were moved into the Presidential bunker under the White House. In an unusual move, the lights outside the north wall of the White House were turned off Friday night. Normally, this is only done when a president has died. The eerie backdrop of the darkened White House hung behind the crowds of protesters throughout the capital.
The protests against the killing of George Floyd took a turn on Friday in Washington DC. While many protesters chanted “no justice, no peace,” others shouted out epithets and anti-Trump sentiment. Across the capital, fires lit up the night sky as looting activities took place throughout the commercial districts.
In front of the White House, protesters pushed against metal barriers placed by Secret Service members. Throughout the night, protesters wrestled the barriers away. Later, the Secret Service would replace the discarded barriers.
On a few occasions, the authorities used pepper spray to push the crowd back. Other times, Secret Service members could be seen walking away from the frontline nursing injuries. The brawl continued for several hours before dispersing.
Despite the protests and large-scale outrage, Trump’s tone over the weekend stayed confrontational towards the protests. He has derided protesters as “thugs,” though he has made repeated claims that the death of George Floyd was wrong.
Despite stating he is in solidarity with the outrage over Floyd’s death, Trump has clarified that he stands with “the majority” of the police.
On Saturday, while speaking at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Trump blasted protesters. He blamed Antifa, a loose conglomerate of anti-fascist protesters, as well as what he called the “radical left,” for the unrest. However, the president has since offered no evidence to back those claims.
“I stand before you as a friend and ally to every American seeking justice and peace. And I stand before you in firm opposition to anyone exploiting this tragedy to loot, rob, attack and menace. Healing, not hatred, justice, not chaos, are the mission at hand,” the president said during his speech.