Protesters Start Fire Near White House

Rallies continue across the U.S. over the death of George Floyd while in police custody.
Demonstrators start a fire as they protest the death of George Floyd, Sunday, May 31, 2020, near the White House in Washington.
Photo/s: AP/Alex Brandon

Protets continue across the United States in response to the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck.

In Washington,  protesters started fires near the White House as tensions with police mounted during a third straight night of demonstrations held in response to the death of George Floyd at police hands in Minnesota.

An hour before the 11 p.m. curfew, police fired a major barrage of tear gas stun grenades into the crowd of more than 1,000 people, largely clearing Lafayette Park across the street from the White House and scattering protesters into the street.

Protesters piled up road signs and plastic barriers and lit a raging fire in the middle of H Street. Some pulled an American flag from a nearby building and threw it into the blaze. Others added branches pulled from trees. A cinder block structure, on the north side of the park, that had bathrooms and a maintenance office, was engulfed in flames.

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The entire Washington, DC National Guard is being called in to help with the response to protests outside the White House and elsewhere in the nation’s capital.

That’s according to two Defense Department officials.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said Sunday that she had requested 500 DC Guardsman to assist local law enforcement. Later on Sunday, as the protests escalated, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy ordered the rest of the Guardsman — roughly 1,200 soldiers — to report.

The officials insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

Contacted by The Associated Press, no reply was returned from the DC National Guard.

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