Protesters Set Building and Cars on Fire Near White House

Protests in Washington, D.C. became tense Saturday night, with footage showing cars and a building on fire near the White House. Police said Sunday 17 people were arrested and 11 police officers were hurt during the second night of protests in the city. The protests followed the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

The demonstrations outside the White House were peaceful at first but took a violent turn hours later. Demonstrators threw objects at officers and vandalized and looted businesses, reports NBC Washington. Some set a scaffolding near the Hay-Adams hotel on fire, but firefighters were able to quickly put it out. Others started fires in dumpsters and broke storefront windows. The police officers who were hurt did not suffer life-threatening injuries. D.C. National Guard has already been called in to help local law enforcement.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she understood the protesters but denounced the violence during a Sunday morning press conference. "We certainly recognize and empathize with the outrage people feel following the killing in Minneapolis last week. The killing of George Floyd wasn’t the first. People are expressing outrage and demanding action," Bowser said, adding that officials are also "proud" of the city and do not want to see it "destroyed." Unlike other mayors, Bowser did not set a curfew because she believed it would not be helpful.

"We know that the people who were disruptive last night were not likely curfew-followers," she said. There were three police cars set aflame during the night, and 29 others were damaged. "It was maddening to think anybody would destroy property, put officers in danger, and put themselves in danger," she said.

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On Sunday, demonstrators again took to the streets. Some were heard yelling, "Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go," "no justice, no peace" and "black lives matter." Some photos showed thousands of people already gathering to march peacefully towards the White House.

The White House was put under lockdown on Friday night after protests got close to the building. This inspired a set of tweets from President Donald Trump Saturday morning, in which he praised the Secret Service for their actions. In the end, he criticized Bowser, incorrectly claiming she "wouldn't let the D.C. police get involved." Bowser called the allegations "gross" during a Saturday press conference and noted D.C. police were at the White House with the Secret Service and U.S. Parks police.