Confrontations between protesters and police continued Sunday night in the streets around the White House.
The protests in Washington, D.C., which were launched after a black man, George Floyd, was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who now has been charged with third-degree murder, continued Sunday despite an 11 p.m. curfew initiated by Mayor Muriel Bowser that appears to have been widely disregarded. Fires were set, and objects were thrown at police, who fired tear gas at some of the protesters in an attempt to clear the streets.
A fire was seen burning in the AFL-CIO building on 16th Street NW. An additional structure in Lafayette Park near St. John’s Church was reportedly gutted by fire, and a blaze was set in the middle of H Street.
Much of the protesting on behalf of racial justice and an end to police brutalization of African Americans has been peaceful — police officers have even joined some of those solidarity protests. But Washington and numerous other cities throughout the nation have experienced confrontational protests, with some of those protesters challenging the police and the community by setting fires, committing vandalism and looting businesses. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday urging police to be more forceful in dealing with those causing trouble.
Protesters have also complained that police tactics in some cases have only served to heighten tensions, rather than reduce them.
The first widespread protests occurred in Minneapolis, the site of the Floyd killing, and a police precinct there was set ablaze late Thursday. Over the weekend, the protests extended to cities throughout the nation, including New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, Atlanta and Los Angeles, recalling the wide-scale protests against the Vietnam War during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden visited the site of one such protest, in Wilmington, Delaware, on Sunday.
As has been the case in recent days, it was not entirely clear Sunday night who was involved in the confrontations with the police and other law enforcement officers. Members of the Trump administration have cast blame on antifa activists and other leftists — with some extra jabs at the media and the Democratic Party thrown in — while civil rights activists have said that members of various alt-right groups are behind some of the destruction. Some of the businesses that were looted or destroyed around the nation were owned or operated by minorities.
Justice Department officials said DEA agents and members of the U.S. Marshals Service were among those deployed to Lafayette Park on Sunday night.