After weeks of mostly peaceful protests, police clashed with protesters near the White House on Monday, spraying a “chemical irritant” to break up a crowd that had tried to topple a bronze statue of former President Andrew Jackson, The Washington Post reports. Hundreds of protesters had gathered together on Monday evening, locking arms at one point as some tried to pull down the Lafayette Square statue with ropes. The attempt came after a series of clashes with authorities over their efforts to remove tents near the White House. D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said the tents, part of a protest against the police killing of George Floyd, were “creating a potential safety hazard.”
Videos on Monday evening showed a chaotic situation outside the White House, with police in riot gear aggressively moving to disperse dozens of demonstrators. At one point, CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins said the Secret Service told journalists they had to leave the White House grounds. “We were inside the White House. The Secret Service asked us to leave. I don’t think that’s ever happened,” she said.