George Floyd death: White House riots intensify as violence ensues across the US, Trump vows to send in troops to end unrest

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Washington: Hundreds of protesters were swept out of a park near the White House on Monday evening, where they were protesting the killing of George Floyd, as President Trump spoke in the Rose Garden a short distance away.

The National Guard set off explosions and fired sting balls and gas into the crowds before pushing those gathered out of Lafayette Square shortly before a 7 p.m. curfew announced by D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) earlier in the day.

President Trump on Monday threatened to deploy federal troops if state and city leaders don’t act to quell acts of violence and looting amid the protests over the killing of George Floyd. Moments earlier, just outside the White House, federal authorities used rubber bullets, flash bangs and gas to clear peaceful protesters from the area.

Trump then walked across Lafayette Square to St. John’s Church, where a fire was set Sunday evening. The president held up a Bible and nodded to media cameras, before being joined by Attorney General Bill Barr and others to pose for photos.

Trump then turned his attention to the national protests, which he blamed on “professional anarchists” and the anti-fascist group Antifa. On Sunday, he designated Antifa as a terrorist organisation.

He called on cities and states to deploy the National Guard, the reserve military force that can be called on to intervene in domestic emergencies, “in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets”. About 16,000 of its troops have been deployed to deal with the unrest so far.

Dozens of people arrested over the weekend when mass protests in the District erupted in mayhem were released from custody Monday after appearing in court on an array of charges, including burglary, destruction of property and violating a municipal curfew.

Although many of those arrested were charged by police with felony rioting, that charge was dropped by prosecutors in most cases.

As night fell with downtown Washington under heavy police presence, protest activity spread to other parts of the city, some vandalism was reported and more arrests occurred.

The death of George Floyd, 46, in Minneapolis on 25 May triggered an outpouring of anger across the country.

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