Famous monuments were defaced and multiple fires were sparked following multiple nights of protests in Washington D.C. over the death of George Floyd. Over the weekend, hundreds of people gathered in the nation's capital in response to Floyd's killing, and while many of the protests remained peaceful, some turned violent, resulting in more than a dozen arrests.
In the wake of last night's demonstrations, there are numerous instances of vandalism to sites around the National Mall. For generations the Mall has been our nation’s premier civic gathering space for non-violent demonstrations, and we ask individuals to carry on that tradition. pic.twitter.com/LmIHfW2AHj— National Mall NPS (@NationalMallNPS) May 31, 2020
According to CNN, as some protesters gathered just across the White House at Lafayette Square Saturday night, where police pepper sprayed some others attempting to enter the square, another group of protesters marched to and then rallied at the Lincoln Memorial, where the words "Yall not tired yet?" were spray-painted. The National World War II Memorial was also targeted, the monument bearing the phrase "Do black Vets count" spray-painted in black.
In response to the vandalism, the National Park Service for the National Mall, in a tweet Sunday morning, denounced the actions of some protesters. In a statement, the service wrote that "for generations, the Mall has been our nation's premier civic gathering space for non-violent demonstrations, and we ask individuals to carry on that tradition." Meanwhile, DC Chief of Police Peter Newsham later confirmed that the Metropolitan Police Department had arrested 17 people Saturday night, noting that 11 MPD officers had been injured during the protests, though none sustained life-threatening injuries.
Protesters again gathered in the capital on Sunday for the third straight night of protests in the city. As the 11 p.m. curfew struck and the police line in front of the darkened White House advanced forward with tear gas to clear out protesters, the protests turned violent. Just blocks from the White House, the historic St. John's Episcopal Church, the iconic "church of presidents," caught fire, the DC Fire Service quickly arriving at the scene and extinguishing the flames. The Guardian reports that a fire was started in the lobby of the AFL-CIO Union federation headquarters after people smashed the plate glass window front as other protesters attempted to stop them, shouting that the "unions are on our side." Not far away, a car was burning, and video of smoke billowing up beside the Washington Monument as a result of the fires quickly went viral on social media.
The Washington Monument in DC. Wow. pic.twitter.com/CnA8zVIgkh— emma (@bymyelf) June 1, 2020
Sunday marked the sixth straight day of protests, which have now turned global, following the death of Floyd. As demonstrators continue to gather in cities across the United States, similar protests have been held in London, Berlin and Auckland, among other cities, as people demand justice and protest against police brutality.