‘Like a war zone’: White House surrounded

 

Police will spend another tense night in Washington D.C as thousands of furious protesters edge closer to the White House, with the military arriving to strengthen support around the US President's home.

Audible explosions could be heard from the White House's Rose Garden - where Mr Trump gave his press conference tonight - as protesters clashed with police in Lafayette Park across the road.

The days of protests were triggered by the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died when a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Mr Floyd's neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.

Nine military vehicles arrived at the White House earlier this evening as Washington D.C's 7pm curfew approached and night fell.

Outside the White House, military personnel joined secret service police in military uniforms, along with the National Guard and other levels of law enforcement, who surrounded protesters at Lafayette Park.

Police clash with protesters near the White House.
Police clash with protesters near the White House.

Mr Trump's brief statement tonight was just minutes before Washington D.C's night curfew was scheduled to come into effect with fears the capital could now descend into chaos as protesters and the military clash.

Speaking to reporters from the Rose Garden over the audible bangs and helicopters flying ahead, Mr Trump called on Americans to stop the violence.

"All Americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd. My administration is fully committed that for George and his family, justice will be served," Mr Trump said.

"He will not have died in vain. But we cannot allow the righteous cries of peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob, the biggest victims of the rioting are peace-loving citizens in our poorest communities and as their president I will fight to keep them safe.

"I will fight to protect you. I am your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters, but in recent days our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa and others.

"The destruction of innocent life and the spilling of innocent blood is an offence to humanity and a crime against God. America needs creation, not destruction. Cooperation not contempt. Security, not anarchy. Healing not hatred. Justice not chaos. This is our mission and we will succeed 100 per cent, we will succeed. Our country always wins."

Police begin clearing the area around the White House.
Police begin clearing the area around the White House.

 

A member of the District of Columbia National Guard looks out from a vehicle driving on West Executive Avenue at the White House. Picture: Patrick Semansky
A member of the District of Columbia National Guard looks out from a vehicle driving on West Executive Avenue at the White House. Picture: Patrick Semansky

The demonstrations turned violent in several cities, with people trashing stores, smashing and burning police cars and igniting fires in historic Lafayette Park across from the White House.

Mr Trump told reporters he was "taking immediate action" to stop the protests.

"I am mobilising all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting, looting, to end the destruction and arson and to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your second amendment rights," he said.

"Therefore, the following measures are going into effect immediately. First we are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country. We will end it now.

"Today I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets. Mayors and governors must establish and overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled.

"If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.

"I am also taking swift and decisive action to protect our great capital - Washington DC. What happened in this city last night was a total disgrace.

"As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily-armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property."

Mr Trump was reportedly rushed to the White House bunker on Friday night as protests became violent and his security team feared his safety was compromised. The president was in the bunker for just under an hour.

The demonstrations in Washington appeared to catch officers by surprise.

They sparked one of the highest alerts at the White House complex since the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Mr Trump reportedly told advisers he worried about his safety, while both privately and publicly praising the work of the Secret Service.

Demonstrators returned over the weekend, facing off against police at Lafayette Park into the evening.

Mr Trump retweeted a message from a conservative commentator encouraging authorities to respond with greater force.

"This isn't going to stop until the good guys are willing to use overwhelming force against the bad guys," Buck Sexton wrote in a message amplified by the president.

Originally published as 'Like a war zone': White House surrounded


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