After days of peaceful protests that were dwarfed by riots, looting and vandalism throughout America in the wake of George Floyd's death in police custody, the nation’s capital and the surrounding areas appear to be characterized by the remnants of a war-torn town.
A number of downtown buildings were damaged including the historic St. John's Church, which is near Lafayette Park and the White House, during the riots on Sunday night. A fire was set in the nursery of the more than 200-year-old church that was eventually extinguished by early Monday morning. Officials at the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department told FOX Business that "the only damage was to the area involved in the fire."
Photos taken early Monday morning reveal that although the fire – which started after police fired a barrage of tear gas and stun grenades into a crowd of more than 1,000 people, moving them out of Layfeyette Park and into the street – was contained to the basement of St. John's, rioters still did a significant amount of damage to the exterior of the building. Graffiti is visible against the church's distinct yellow paint.
“I could see no other real damage besides that one room, and quite a bit of graffiti and debris around the exterior of the church. Protestors easily could have done a lot worse to our buildings, but they chose not to do that,” Rev. Rob Fisher, the rector of St. John’s, said in an email to the church’s congregation Monday morning.
Protests in Washington held in response to Floyd’s death continued late into Sunday night as tensions with police continued to mount. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a citywide curfew on Sunday, stating that no one should be allowed out from the hours of 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. She added that the District of Columbia National Guard would be activated to support the Metropolitan Police Department.
Floyd, a black man, died last Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd's neck, ignoring his pleas for air.
Similar instances of vandalism occurred in New York City late Sunday night. The city’s police force is asking for the public's assistance in locating the two individuals who vandalized St. Patrick's Cathedral in Midtown Manhattan.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.