Protesters sing ‘Lean On Me’ outside White House amid riots

Scenes of protesters being doused in tear gas, journalists being abused, and cars and buildings burning have dominated most media coverage as the United States enters its second week of protests over George Floyd’s death, and police violence more broadly.

But amid the chaos, which stemmed from the killing of Floyd, a black man, last week in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the hands of a white police officer, it’s easy to overlook the fact that many of the protests have remained peaceful – leading to moments of solidarity amid demonstrators.

One such moment, captured by Washington Post reporter Hannah Natanson, showed thousands of protesters outside the White House today in Washington D.C, singing Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me” in a “surreal, beautiful, peaceful scene”.

“Absolutely beautiful. That’s what it should be about,” one viewer wrote underneath the footage, while another said that listening to the singing “filled me with hope”.

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“No matter what the ones that want to us do, from here on, we are one. All of us that finally realised our privilege are going to prop up and amplify those that had none. We will be better tomorrow than we are today,” they wrote.

It follows other moments of unity amid the violence, including police taking a knee in an act of solidarity with protesters at Black Lives Matter marches, in memory of Floyd and at demonstrations for black woman Breonna Taylor, shot dead by police in her home in March.

A “historic moment” showing a young white protester throwing herself between a kneeling African-American man and police also went viral, with one reporter saying it was a scene they’d “never forget”.

“A young black man jumped the gated barrier in Lafayette Park near the White House. Then a white girl jumped the barrier and put herself between the young man and US Park Police to protect him,” NBC’s Shomari Stone wrote above the footage.

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The scenes of the demonstrators singing outside the White House today come after a group of peaceful protesters were cleared from the area on Tuesday with tear gas, rubber bullets and horses moments before US President Donald Trump took a photo opportunity nearby where they’d gathered.

“We are literally DRIVEN OFF of the St John’s, Lafayette Square patio with tear gas and concussion grenades and police in full riot gear,” Rector Gini Gerbasi wrote in a Facebook post, saying she was “shaken” by the police actions.


“I am shaken, not so much by the taste of tear gas and the bit of a cough I still have, but by the fact that that show of force was for a PHOTO OPPORTUNITY.”

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