Protesters tear through D.C. after National Guard troops and Secret Service keep them from the White House

WASHINGTON — Downtown Washington, D.C., was filled with flames and broken glass in the early hours of Sunday morning as large groups of protesters moved through the city for the second straight night.

The protesters caused extensive damage to businesses in the blocks surrounding the White House after a large contingent of law enforcement — including National Guard troops, the U.S. Park Police and the Secret Service — kept the demonstrators back from the president’s residence.

Protesters lit fires at multiple locations around the city and clashed with law enforcement, hurling fireworks and other projectiles at the officers. Some protesters sprayed graffiti and broke windows in the city’s downtown area. Officers from Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department and the other federal agencies pushed back against the demonstrators with riot shields, batons and tear gas.

Fireworks explode near a police line close to the White House. (AP/Alex Brandon)
Fireworks explode near a police line close to the White House. (AP/Alex Brandon)

The chaos at the Capitol was part of a wave of demonstrations that have taken place around the country the past week following the May 25 death of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, in Minneapolis police custody. Video footage showed Officer Derek Chauvin holding his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck for several minutes as he complained that he could not breathe. Chauvin was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

The first wave of protests to hit Washington, D.C., was on Friday night, stretching into the early hours of the next day as protesters breached barricades between Lafayette Park and Pennsylvania Avenue across the street from the White House. The protesters spent hours violently clashing with Secret Service officers and U.S. Park Police as they pushed toward the White House. After 3 a.m. ET, the Secret Service surged forward and dispersed the protesters with pepper spray. Once Lafayette Park was cleared, it was locked down with barricades and riot shields — held by Secret Service, Park Police and National Guard troops. The expanded perimeter kept the crowds at least a block from the White House.

While some protesters spent Saturday night and early Sunday morning clashing with law enforcement at the barricades near the White House, many more moved into the nearby business district. President Trump posted a slew of tweets on Saturday evening but none directly addressed the protests that raged near his home.