WASHINGTON – The protests over George Floyd's death hit the nation's capital Friday night as angry protesters arrived at Pennsylvania Avenue, leading to a lockdown at the White House, spokesman Judd Deere confirmed to USA TODAY.
Floyd, a black man, died in Minneapolis police custody this week after a white officer pinned him to the ground under his knee. His death has sparked demonstrations against police brutality and racial discrimination in cities across the United States.
On Friday, President Trump spoke with Floyd's family, saying he understood their pain. That call came several hours after his tweet about about rioters in Minneapolis sparked outrage, and drew a warning label from Twitter.
Fired officer Derek Chauvin was arrested Friday and charged with murder in Floyd's death. The Hennepin County Attorney's complaint said Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, including for 2 minutes and 53 seconds after Floyd was non-responsive.
Outside the White House on Friday, Secret Service could be seen after 7 p.m. taking at least one person into custody. Videos showed a large group of protesters gathering, with some burning flags and knocking over barricades. The protesters have moved from the White House to another part of the city.
Multiple reporters posted that they were inside the White House and that the Secret Service was not letting them leave the grounds during the lockdown.
The Secret Service frequently locks down the White House for perceived security threats, such as packages or bags left nearby. But the building is rarely locked down for protests. And while protests are a daily occurrence outside the White House, they are often small – drawing a few dozen people, at most.
While the largest protests have enveloped Minneapolis, prompting the deployment of 500 National Guardsmen, people have taken to the streets from New York to Chicago to the California coast. Seven people were shot during a protest in Louisville on Thursday night, dozens were arrested in New York City, officers fired rubber bullets into a crowd of protesters in Phoenix and a driver appeared to intentionally run over a protester in Denver.
The Secret Service said that their "personnel are currently assisting other law enforcement agencies during a demonstration in Lafayette Park. In the interest of public safety we encourage all to remain peaceful."