Thousands of protesters have descended on the White House area to call for justice for George Floyd.
Loud chants of “Black lives matter” could be heard from the White House grounds, but officers from the Park Police and Secret Service were keeping them far back from the heavily fortified Executive Mansion.
Beside the stepped-up law enforcement presence, the White House was unusually quiet for a Sunday as staffers were encouraged to keep away from the complex.
“Due to ongoing demonstrations, please avoid coming to the White House Complex today if it all possible,” an email alert to staffers stated.
One particularly powerful image showed one police officer among a row kneeling down so he was eye-to-eye with an African-American protester.
In other cities, police officers have been pictured kneeling at the protests as an attack of support for the protesters.
In New York, cops were pictured kneeling in the street as protesters cheer them on and thank them.
The cops, with heads bowed, then joined in on a reading of the names of black men and women who have died at the hands of police.
Protesters and the officers could then be seen shaking hands and hugging.
Donald Trump has not directly addressed the White House protesters, but he has called for military intervention to quell the protests across the country.
Taking to Twitter, the US President denounced the protesters as “Radical Left Anarchists”, claiming “the world is watching and laughing” at his Democratic rival Joe Biden, and that the National Guard must be used “before it is too late”.
The President also said Antifa will be designated a terrorist organisation by the United States, even though experts say this would be unconstitutional.
Antifa, short for anti-fascists, refers to a loosely organised coalition of activists and self-described anarchists who have been involved in street protests for several years.
Mr Trump gave no other details, but the American Civil Liberties Union said on its website that the USA Patriot Act “expanded the definition of terrorism to cover ‘domestic’,” as opposed to international terrorism.
The President has claimed the far-left organisers are key drivers of street violence in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Protests have now erupted in at least 30 US cities over the death of unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of police.
Three people have been shot, one killed and hundreds arrested in the violence, with businesses smashed, looted and burned down in the unrest.
Police have arrested at least 1669 people in 22 US cities in the past three days.
It follows another night of unrest in every corner of the country, with dozens of American cities protesting over the mistreatment of African-Americans at the hands of police.
Cars and businesses were torched, the words “I can’t breathe” were spray-painted all over buildings, a fire in a trash bin burned near the gates of the White House, and tens of thousands marched peacefully through city streets.
Floyd’s death is one of a litany of racial tragedies that have thrown the country into chaos amid the coronavirus pandemic that has left millions out of work and killed more than 100,000 people in the US, including disproportionate numbers of black people.
“We’re sick of it. The cops are out of control,” protester Olga Hall said in Washington DC. “They’re wild. There’s just been too many dead boys.”
People set fire to police cars, threw bottles at police officers and busted windows of storefronts, carrying away TVs and other items even as some protesters urged them to stop. In Indianapolis, police were investigating multiple shootings, including one that left a person dead amid the protests – adding to deaths in Detroit and Minneapolis in recent days.
In Minneapolis, the city where the protests began, police, state troopers and National Guard members moved in soon after an 8pm curfew took effect to break up protests, firing tear gas and rubber bullets to clear streets outside a police precinct and elsewhere.
At least 13 police officers were injured in Philadelphia when peaceful protests turned violent and at least four police vehicles were set on fire.
In New York City, dangerous confrontations flared repeatedly as officers made arrests and cleared streets.
Overnight curfews have been imposed in more than a dozen major cities nationwide, including Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Seattle.