Violent clashes erupted outside the White House during Friday night as hundreds of protesters angered by George Floyd’s death squared off against police officers in plastic shields and helmets.
Demonstrations had been largely peaceful when protesters voiced their frustration before a line of policemen early on Friday evening but after midnight the stand-off escalated.
More than 70 officers formed a defensive line before the White House as protesters chanted, shouted and at times hit out at those protecting the president’s residence.
Police officers sprayed mace and, according to US media reports, tear gas to break up confrontations in ugly scenes playing out just a hundred meters or so from the White House.
Mr Trump was believed to be inside the residence throughout the clashes. Chants of “f*** the police”, “f*** Trump”, “no justice, no peace” and “black lives matter” were heard at various times.
The protests in Washington DC mirrored similar scenes across America amid fury at the death of Mr Floyd, a black American killed in police custody after being pinned to the ground with a knee on his neck by a white police officer.
Protesters gathered in the US capital at the Department of Corrections on Friday afternoon before marching to a park outside of White House, arriving at around 7pm.
At that point the White House was briefly placed in lockdown, with journalists in the press room on the property told they could not leave and officers moving in place to see off the protests.
There was chanting and some verbal abuse shouted at officers but few clashes, with protesters moving on and marching to the US Congress after around an hour. However later, after midnight, a smaller group of a few hundred vocal protesters returned.
This time officers in protective gear were in place alongside barricades between the White House and the edge of Lafayette Park, just to its north. Occasionally clashes turned violent.
Protesters at times tried to rip the fence barricades away, threw bottles of water, shouted in the faces of officers or hit their shields.
Police holding the line reacted at times by pushing back with their shields, spraying mace and at one point - according to US reporters - setting off tear gas.
The protests continued until past 3am, with some protesters leaving but the clashes with those that stayed becoming more frequent and more violent. At one point some protesters managed to grab a shield off one of the officers, waving it in triumph.
A small fire was later lit on it. At another point an officer’s wooden stick was taken. At times the police pushed forward, trying to stop protesters advancing beyond the edge of the park.
Sometimes they formed their plastic shields into a tortoise shape. Around 3am the police used mace to disperse a clash.
One man, screaming in pain, lay on the floor as others poured milk on his eyes to sooth them. He later sought medical attention. Around 30 minutes later a policeman shouted “final warning, leave the park” and the line of officers advanced in unison, some spraying mace.
Soon afterwards most protesters returned home and the demonstration was over. Some vowed to return again on Saturday.
The demonstrations matched similar protests that broke out once again in cities across America on Friday evening following the death of Mr Floyd in police custody.
Footage of the black American with his neck pinned to the ground while being arrested by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, sparked outrage this week.
In the video Mr Floyd is heard saying “I can’t breathe”. He later died. Mr Chauvin, who was sacked along with three other officers on Monday, was charged with murder on Friday.
People attending the Washington DC protest expressed their fury at the scenes captured on camera before Mr Floyd’s death.
Khari, a 19-year-old African-American wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt in reference to the anti-police violence group, described his anger at watching the video.
“Watching him beg for his life, watching his life drain out of his eyes... Every single video that comes out takes another piece of the soul,” he told The Telegraph while standing outside of the White House.
Discussing why he attended the protest, he said: "This stuff is too much, man. It’s just been happening for too long. It’s hard, it just hurts. I feel like I need to be here to support my people.”
Another male protester, 23, had turned out in a face mask. He has lived in Washington DC all his life and asked not to be named.
"It was just the sheer emotion of what happened in the last week,” he said when asked why he was protesting.
He added about the footage of Mr Floyd’s arrest: “It’s f****** unbelievable. I don’t know how many times a person can scream and plea. They just don’t relent.”
A third protester, a 19-year-old called Amel, had turned out with her friends and was one of the few who continued on to the US Congress to protest. She carried a hand-drawn ‘Black Lives Matter’ placard.
“No matter how many protests there are it seems our voices aren’t heard,” she told The Telegraph, going on to refer to the violent protests on Thursday night in Minneapolis, the city where Mr Floyd was arrested.
“Just because that incident happened in Minnesota it doesn’t mean we can’t spread awareness here as well. It's an issue all across America."