The White House was placed on lockdown on Friday evening as protests near the building escalated and some protesters knocked down a barricade.
The protests in Washington, D.C., were part of growing national unrest in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Video footage earlier this week showed a Minneapolis police officer holding Floyd down by the neck while the man pleaded that he could not breathe. The officer continued to leave it there after Floyd became unresponsive. Floyd would later die, kicking off days of unrest in the Twin Cities that has now spilled over into protests in a number of American cities.
As NBC News reporter Peter Alexander noted on Twitter, the U.S. Secret Service ordered the White House to be placed on lockdown after protesters in the area pushed over a barricade. Video footage showed that tensions were rising, though the protest did not appear violent.
“The White House is under lockdown orders from the U.S. Secret Service due to protests outside the gates over George Floyd,” Alexander reported. “A dozen reporters, myself included, still inside the West Wing.”
Reports indicated that the White House lockdown was a precautionary measure and that there was no immediate danger to anyone inside.
Many have directed their anger at President Donald Trump after his statement in the early morning hours on Friday calling violent protesters in Minneapolis “THUGS,” a word that critics said had racial undertones. Trump also shared what appeared to be a threat to authorize the military to fire on protesters, though he explained later on Friday that it was meant as an observation that violent protests and looting often lead to more violence and shooting.
“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”
The protests in Washington, D.C., often took aim at Trump, with protesters spraypainting the words “F*ck Trump” on a building on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House.
The protest then headed to in front of the White House. A protester was taken by the USSS in front of Pennsylvania Ave into an adjacent federal building. Unclear what he did.A couple men then splintered off from the group and spray painted “F*ck Trump” on the building. @cbsnews pic.twitter.com/OVwPu0PF6X
— Fin Gomez (@finnygo) May 29, 2020
The protests near the White House came as tensions began to rise in other cities. In Atlanta, protesters descended on CNN Center, with many vandalizing the company’s iconic sign in front of the building. Similar protests have taken place in Los Angeles, Denver, and Chicago.