Secret Service tells press to leave White House grounds immediately

By CNN |

The statue of President Andrew Jackson near the White House. (AP)

The US Secret Service has told members of the White House press corps to immediately leave the White House grounds, a highly unusual decision that did not immediately come with an explanation.

The decision came during an ongoing demonstration in Lafayette Square, across the street from the White House where protesters were trying to bring down a statue of former US President Andrew Jackson that stands in the middle of the park.

Protesters spray painted “BHAZ” on the pillars of St John’s Episcopal Church, which sits across the street from Lafayette Square.

The acronym stands for “Black House Autonomous Zone,” an apparent reference to the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) in Seattle where protesters have taken over a six-square-block area of the city and kept out police in order to set up their own self-governing space.

The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone had been a relatively peaceful protest until this past weekend.

Two men were shot in the zone early Saturday morning and one of them later died.

Police said a “violent crowd” prevented them from getting to the wounded individuals.

In the nation’s capital, tensions between groups of protesters and law enforcement outside the White House have been a focal point for the nation in recent weeks as protests continue to play out over the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis last month.

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