Demonstrations in response to the killing of George Floyd last week at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer have expanded to other parts of the country, and indeed around the world.
Perhaps because of the growing intensity of the protests, President Donald Trump and his family members were ushered by the Secret Service to an underground bunker beneath the White House complex on Friday evening. After staying there for just under an hour, the Trump family was allowed to return to the main residential area.
It was unclear what warranted the move to the bunker, as there were no reports of breaches to the perimeter while protesters demonstrated outside the White House.
Trump praised the Secret Service on Saturday for their work protecting the executive residence.
“Great job last night at the White House by the U.S. @SecretService. They were not only totally professional, but very cool,” Trump said in a tweet. The president also claimed he was inside watching “every move” that the Secret Service took with demonstrators.
Trump also mentioned that any protesters who may have breached the fence “would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons” for doing so.
The White House, meanwhile, has largely ignored the issue of police brutality, with the president instead taking actions to protect himself and lashing out on social media to cast blame toward his political adversaries.
George Floyd was killed by former Officer Derek Chauvin, who handcuffed and pinned Floyd to the ground while applying pressure from his knee to Floyd’s neck. Floyd repeatedly begged officers to stop, telling them he could not breathe. Chauvin didn’t release his knee after Floyd had lost consciousness, and kept pressure applied to his neck even after paramedics arrived at the scene.
After mounting public pressure, Chauvin was eventually arrested and charged with third-degree homicide and second-degree manslaughter on Friday. The other officers involved in the arrest have yet to be charged.
The protest that led Trump to move to the White House bunker as thousands gathered in front of the White House to demonstrate is part of the nationwide surge of uprisings that have taken place in many U.S. cities in response to Floyd’s killing, anti-Black racism, police brutality and the stark racial disparities that have been made more apparent than ever by the grossly disparate toll of COVID-19 on Black, Indigenous and Latinx communities
There has been significant international support of the protests and uprisings happening in the United States. In Berlin on Saturday, thousands appeared in front of the U.S. Embassy building holding signs and chanting “Say his name” and “I can’t breathe.” Protests were also held on Saturday in Toronto, Canada, and on Sunday hundreds of residents in London defied stay-at-home orders to voice their support for U.S. demonstrations.