As protests over the death of George Floyd broke out globally over the weekend, the external floodlights that typically keep the White House illuminated went dark Sunday night. Images from the scene show the president's residence completely dark, something that many on social media said represented President Donald Trump's response to the crisis. Trump — who was rushed to a White House bunker Friday night — has not delivered a nationally televised address regarding Floyd's death or the protests that were sparked in response, with the Washington Post reporting that some of his campaign advisers have recommended that he do so.
Protesters had gathered outside the White House over the weekend demanding justice for Floyd, who died while in police custody after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes — two minutes and 53 seconds of which Floyd was unresponsive. On Friday, hundreds of protesters had gathered outside the executive mansion, some throwing rocks and tugging at police barricades. The protests only continued to escalate as tensions rose, mounting Sunday evening as some protesters set fires across the city.
According to the Washington Post, one fire occurred at H Street NW, which is just one block from the White House. The historic St. John's Episcopal Church, the iconic "church of presidents," also caught fire, the DC Police Department stating in a tweet that they believe it was intentionally set on fire. Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames quickly. Elsewhere in the capital, protesters used baseball bats to smash windows, threw water bottles, and set off fireworks, all while pushing against lines of riot police.
In response, police fired tear gas at protesters, and Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a citywide curfew from 11 p.m. on Sunday to 6 a.m. Monday, acknowledging in a Sunday tweet that she understands "people are tired, sad, and desperate for change." The National Guard was also called in, a move that has been taken across cities nationwide.
The White House went dark, turning off almost all of its external lights, as protesters set fires nearby and thousands again defied curfews to demonstrate against police brutality. Smoke was seen rising near the Washington Monument. https://t.co/pmtsjrQp7l pic.twitter.com/0twHpsWjPk— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 1, 2020
Chauvin, the officer seen on video kneeling on Floyd's neck, was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. The three other officers involved in the May 25 incident have not been charged. All four officers had their positions with the Minneapolis Police Department terminated a day after Floyd's death.