WASHINGTON — As the D.C. curfew went into effect at 11 p.m., Sunday, authorities surround St. John's Church, where it and an adjacent building were on fire. It came as some protesters occupied the area amid demonstrations in the city.
D.C. fire officials confirmed that there was a fire in the basement at the church. Officials also said the blaze was extinguished. It appears from images and social media reaction that there is no damage to the sanctuary.
WUSA9's Matt Gregory talked to the rector from St. John’s Church. He said the fire was in the nursery and did not spread, but that the nursery was just a burned-out shell now.
The church rector told Matt Gregory that he is most concerned that his church be a beacon for anti-racism and good in the world.
Chaos erupted earlier at Lafayette Square park near the White House where protesters started a bonfire. There were reports of a building on fire, tear gas being deployed and agitators launching fireworks as authorities advance their line, pushing protesters back.
"We write to you with heavy, but hopeful hearts. Our community and our country are in anguish and unrest," said St. John's in a statement on Sunday. " And yet, we can see thousands of people are lifting their voices and organizations are engaging in peaceful, meaningful action to ensure the life of George Floyd and countless others are not lost in vain. We will unite as a church community to follow the path of love and to channel this anguish into concrete, productive and powerful action."
St. John's is a historic church that is located outside of Layfayette Park, near the White House. It is a place that many U.S. Presidents have attended over the years and is a beacon of fellowship in the District.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser put in place the District-wide curfew until 6 a.m. on Monday. And, it came after she originally said she wouldn't mandated a curfew.
There have already been multiple arrests made by D.C. Police after vandalism and destruction took place Saturday into Sunday. The department arrested 18 people, many of whom were charged with felonies.
"Justice for George Floyd" protests sparked in D.C. and across the U.S. after a video surfaced showing George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer.
Protests erupted nationwide days after Floyd’s death calling for the arrests of all the officers involved after a Memorial Day viral video showed Floyd being pinned down by his neck by then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Floyd, who is repeatedly heard in the video saying he can't breath and asking for Chauvin to get off his neck, died that day.
Outrage over George Floyd's death ignites the third day of chaos in DC
The Minneapolis mayor on Tuesday fired all four officers involved in the incident. On Friday, Chauvin was arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd's death. But the other three officers who were involved in the incident have not yet been arrested or charged, with prosecutors in Minnesota on Friday saying that charges are likely forthcoming.