Nation's capital on fire, as riots escalate in the US


The White House went dark on Sunday night as protesters set buildings and cars on fire in chaotic scenes just outside its grounds. 

The move sparked debate about whether it was actually that unusual, with some saying it never happened and others suggesting it was a regular occurrence.

The Guardian reported that the lights were only ever turned off when a President died.

Meanwhile footage has emerged of protesters smashing and overturning cars, and vandalising businesses close to the White House as rallies turned violent.

As demonstrations continued past an 11am curfew, Washington police said they were responding to multiple fires that were "intentionally set" around the city.

A building in the park with bathrooms and a maintenance office went up in flames and people broke into banks, bottle shops and jewelry stores.

St John's Episcopal Church, which is located across from Lafayette Square, next to the White House, was also set on fire.

The church says every president beginning with James Madison, "until the present," has attended a service at the church, giving it the nickname, "the church of presidents."

Police fired tear gas and stun grenades into a crowd of more than 1,000 chanting protesters.

The crowd ran away and piled up road signs and plastic barriers to light a raging fire in a nearby street. Some pulled an American flag from a building and threw it into the blaze.

Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a curfew from 11pm to 6am local time, with the National Guard activated to assist police in ensuring these restrictions are met.

It comes as protests have now erupted in at least 30 US cities over the death of unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of police.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was fatally arrested in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last week. A video posted on social media of the incident allegedly showed white police officer Derek Chauvin pushing down on his neck with his knee as he yelled, "I can't breathe".

Chauvin was charged with third degree murder, and three other officers present were fired.

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