Rioters Set Up 'Autonomous Zone' Outside White House, Attack Presidential Statue
Black Lives Matter protesters try to tear down former President Andrew Jackson monument
Rioters in Washington, D.C. have set up a new "Black House Autonomous Zone" or "BHAZ" outside the White House while others tried to tear down the nearby statue of former President Andrew Jackson on Monday night.
Black Lives Matter protesters attached ropes to the Jackson monument in Lafayette Park and tried to pull it down.
Other groups of activists began sealing off an area with barriers in an act of defiance similar to events in Seattle by declaring off-limits an area dubbed "BHAZ."
Rioters put ropes around the bust of the seventh president riding a horse and attempted to topple it to chants of “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Andrew Jackson’s got to go," the Washington Post reported.
Police intervened as hundreds of protesters locked arms around the statue before the crowds turned violent in a chaotic scene.
U.S. Park and D.C. police officers used a chemical irritant to disperse the crowd and officers were hit with objects.
Jackson, who has faced ire in the present day for his severe treatment of Native Americans, was the latest historical figure targeted by protesters demanding monuments and memorials to those with racist pasts be taken down.
Fox News confirmed that the U.S. Secret Service asked reporters to leave the White House grounds nearby, although the specific reason wasn't clear.
Nearby, videos circulating online showed people around Lafayette Park carrying wooden boards and fencing in an attempt to declare the autonomous zone.
Orange and white barricades -- originally erected by police -- were moved from a church and added to others to make them longer.
BLACK AUTONOMOUS ZONE FORMING OUTSIDE WHITE HOUSEpic.twitter.com/LRmZLQzE5U— The_Real_Fly (@The_Real_Fly) June 22, 2020
Police were able to disperse the rioters before they were able to successfully topple the Jackson statue.
The statue depicts Jackson in uniform astride a horse at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, one of the most important battles of the War of 1812.
In the battle, American defenders under Jackson’s command routed British invaders.
Though the battle technically took place after the war had ended — thanks to the slow communications of the era — it firmly established American military prowess and played a role in burnishing Jackson’s credentials as a military leader.
On Monday, demonstrators broke through a fence around the statue and placed ropes around the statue, which they attempted to tear down.
#BREAKING: Protesters have opened the fence surrounding the Andrew Jackson statue in Lafayette Square and have climbed on top.— Jess Arnold (@JessArnoldTV) June 22, 2020
I’ve heard them say they’re trying to tear it down. @wusa9 #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/i8cBlM171b
#breaking: Police clash with protesters in Washington D.C.’s Lafayette Park, police moving in to stop protesters from pulling down the equestrian statue of General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. pic.twitter.com/UosFeQQM5u— Preston Phillips (@PrestonTVNews) June 23, 2020
Rioters are pulling down the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square in DC.— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) June 23, 2020
Rioters shouted: "This is what democracy looks like!”; “No justice, no peace!”; and “Hands up, don’t shoot!”
The latter is a reference to the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, according to Breitbart.
Brown was killed while charging a police officer whose gun he had attempted to take, but activists claimed falsely that he had been shot in the back with his hands raised in surrender.
The event launched the Black Lives Matter movement.
U.S. Park Police deployed pepper spray to disperse the crowd.
Some of the rioters appeared armed.
Some of the rioters wore white helmets with red crosses and administered first aid to those who had been sprayed.
Nearby, the St. John’s Episcopal Church, damaged in a fire set by rioters on May 31, was vandalized:
St. John’s Church has been vandalized with spray paint reading BHAZ (Black House Autonomous Zone) pic.twitter.com/8D7UITVTK0— Richie🎥McG🍿 (@RichieMcGinniss) June 23, 2020
Not far away from the statue, “protesters had pushed construction barriers and sections of metal fence into the street in the area to create roadblocks,” The Washington Post reported.
“Someone had posted a sign spray-painted on plywood: ‘BHAZ: Black House Autonomous Zone.'”
New York Post reporter Ebony Bowden tweeted a video showing the area, writing: “Looks like another autonomous zone is springing up — this one outside the White House. Protesters are fortifying barricades in what they’re calling ‘BHAZ’ – Black House Autonomous Zone.
"Wonder how long President Trump will allow this to last on his doorstep.”
Looks like another autonomous zone is springing up — this one outside the White House. Protesters are fortifying barricades in what they’re calling “BHAZ” - Black House Autonomous Zone. Wonder how long President Trump will allow this to last on his doorstep. pic.twitter.com/60jK7Qj3iM— Ebony Bowden (@ebonybowden) June 22, 2020
Just arriving at the scene - cops have shut down our to McPherson Square. This is one entrance to the BHAZ pic.twitter.com/ZZ6CAQI42D— DEFUND POLICE (@scott_a_ross) June 23, 2020
The efforts by protesters were similar to those in Seattle who carved out the "Capitol Hill Organized Protest," or "CHOP," in the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood more than two weeks ago.
City officials announced Monday that steps were being taken to dismantle the cop-free area after a series of shootings and other violence within the area.