Occupiers create autonomous zone in Washington DC outside White House

In Washington DC, outside the White House, activists endeavored to set up an autonomous zone. It began with an attempt to pull down a statue of Andrew Jackson.
Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY

In Washington DC, outside the White House, activists endeavoured to set up an autonomous zone, like the one currently occupying the Capitol Hill neighbourhood in Seattle.

It began when rioters showed up with ropes to topple the statue of Andrew Jackson, who was the 7th president of the United States.

Reporter Shelby Talcott was on the scene for the Daily Caller, shot the scene. "Rioters in Lafayette Square in Washington DC are trying to topple over a statue of President Andrew Jackson."

The base of the statue, which portrays Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans, had already been vandalized. A man's voice can be heard shouting to "hold the line."

US Park Police arrived to protect public art from destruction at the hands of vandals and rioters. Shelby Talcott writes "Police have arrived at the White House where protestors were trying to tear down a statue and build and autonomous zone. Tensions are high:"

People can be seen running at police, being pushed back by police wielding shields, and the scene is one of total chaos.

The police responded with pepper spray.

St. John's Episcopal Church, which had been set on fire by rioters earlier this month, was spray painted by rioters turned occupiers who wanted to create a Black House Autonomous Zone, or BHAZ. These letters were spray painted on the columns of the church.

St. John's, often called the Presidents' church, is where President Abraham Lincoln prayed nightly for a Union victory during the Civil War.

Emily Jashinsky, reporter for The Federalist, caught protestors screaming at a black officer, "You're a traitor to your people."

Tensions rose between protestors and police, with protestors taunting and berating police.

Protestors got close to police, separated by concrete barriers and police shields, screaming curses and insults at them.

In the background, another protestor can be heard to yell "Move down H Street," and "Hold the line."

Tents were erected near Lafayette Park at St. John's Church as the occupiers settled in.

The police cleared the park of protestors. "Right outside the White House," Julio Rosas of Townhall writes, "where Parks Police and DC Police have pushed people out of Lafayette Park." He notes that "Pepper spray is in the air."

Protestors scream obscenities at police at the top of their voices.

Altercations between protestors and police escalated, with bottles thrown, pepper spray, and the setting of fires.

The scene in DC last night was not one of organized protest, but of chaos and mayhem.

The aim of protestors in Washington DC was to occupy, to take the area outside of Lafayette Park, outside of St. John's Church, back from the public and turn it into their own area.

President Donald Trump tweeted out that "There will never be an 'Autonomous Zone' in Washington DC, as long as I'm your President. If they try they will be met with serious force!"

He also noted that: "Numerous people arrested in DC for the disgraceful vandalism, in Lafayette Park, of the magnificent Statue of Andrew Jackson, in addition to the exterior defacing of St. John’s Church across the street. 10 years in prison under the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act. Beware!"

Demands of protestors, in the wake of George Floyd's killing at the hands of a police officer on May 25 in Minneapolis, have been substantially unclear and chaotic. However, one clear ask is for the defunding of police. This measure has been considered and is currently under consideration by many major US city legislatures. Protests have not lessened despite the meeting of demands.

Statues have been toppled by mob force across the country. While it began with statues representing the Confederacy, it moved on to those statues honouring abolitionists, Christopher Columbus, and has now moved on to the desecration of the memory of democratically elected presidents.

Those presidents include: general of the Union army Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt—to be removed from the museum he founded—and now the mob has come for Andrew Jackson.

Once the ropes come out and destruction of public property, not peaceful protest, is the goal, the act is no longer one of advocating for political change. Instead, it is chaos, mob rule, and desecration that are the aims of these protestors turned rioters turned militant occupiers.

The statue at Lafayette Square has stood since 1853, and was crafted by Clark Reid and Philip Mills. Mills was Reid's enslaved assistant and worked on many commissions with him. Jackson's presidency is known for the sad policies of Indian removal. He was a major general in the war of 1812, was a slave owner, served for two terms, and was elected by popular vote.

Libby Emmons
Join The Discussion