The secret service tells the press to leave the White House in an extremely unusual move

The secret service tells the press to leave the White House in an extremely unusual move

The decision was made during an ongoing protest in Lafayette Square, opposite the White House, where protesters were trying to take down a statue of former President Andrew Jackson standing in the middle of the park. The protesters were eventually pushed out of the park by police.

The U.S. Secret Service released a statement early Tuesday stating that “four members of the media were in the wrong direction” to leave the White House.

Journalists, including two CNN employees, said they had to leave the White House immediately via the south side of the complex, which is not the normal entrance / exit for the press. The move by members of the White House to force the media is extremely unusual. Usually in security situations in the White House, the press body is locked inside the complex.

A spokesman for the Secret Service told CNN, “On Monday afternoon, in response to the increasingly violent protests in Lafayette Park, four members of the media were mistakenly directed by the Secret Service to leave the White House. The members of the press headed to the south side of the complex for their own safety. “

Protesters spray-painted “BHAZ” on the pillars of St. John’s Episcopal Church, located opposite Lafayette Square. The acronym means “Autonomous Black Belt”, a clear reference to the Hill Capital Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) in Seattle, where protesters have occupied an area of ​​six square meters of the city and detained police to establish their own autonomous area.

The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone was a relatively peaceful protest until last weekend. Two men were shot in the area early Saturday morning and one of them died later. Police said a “violent crowd” prevented them from reaching the injured.
President Donald Trump tweeted Late Monday afternoon, “Many people were arrested in DC for the shameful vandalism, in Lafayette Park, of the magnificent statue of Andrew Jackson, in addition to the external deformation of St. John’s Church opposite,” adding: “10 years in prison according to Veteran’s Retention Law. Attention! “
US Secretary of the Interior David Bernard echoed this message. tweeting“I just left Lafayette Square where another so-called ‘peaceful protest’ led to a catastrophe tonight.

“Law and order will prevail,” he said, “and justice will be done.”

In the nation’s capital, tensions between protesters and the imposition of a law outside the White House have been a focal point for the nation in recent weeks as protests continue over the murder of George Floyd, a black man who died while in custody. in Minneapolis last month.

Last month, Trump was briefly transferred to an underground warehouse for a period of time as protesters gathered outside the White House, according to a White House official and law enforcement source. The President was there for a little less than an hour before being moved upstairs.

A law enforcement source and another source familiar with the matter told CNN that First Lady Melania Trump and their son, Barron, were also taken to the warehouse.

Following the incident, the White House warned employees who had to go to work to hide their passages until they reached a secret entry point and hid them as they left, according to an email seen by CNN.

A few days later, Trump declared himself “President of your law and order” as peaceful protesters just outside the gates of the White House were scattered with gas, flashing bullets and rubber bullets, after which he walked to a nearby church for a walk. photo opportunity.

He stayed in the boarding house, making a Bible for the cameras, just minutes before returning to the White House.

This story has been updated with additional developments on Monday.

CNN’s Allie Malloy contributed to this report.

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