Things are getting tense in Washington DC early this week, as protests once again pick up some steam in the area surrounding the White House.
For several weeks prior, the demonstrations that were occurring in our nation’s capital were largely peaceful, with only the occasional issue – often stemming from groups of extremist agitators who come out to play at night.
On Monday night, however, things kicked up a notch once again as protesters attempted to topple a statue of former President Andrew Jackson, and set up their own “autonomous zone”, a la Seattle’s CHOP.
Amid this chaos, the Secret Service made a highly unusual maneuver.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reported on Monday night that the Secret Service forced the press corps to evacuate the White House and grounds as protestors in nearby Lafayette Park skirmished with police as they attempted to tear down a statue of President Andrew Jackson.
Breaking into his normal programming, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper brought in Collins, who explained what said was an unprecedented security step to demand the media exit the protected White House compound.
“The Secret Service asked us to leave. I don’t think that’s ever happened since I’ve been inside the White House,” Collins noted. “Often they say you can’t go outside, the White House is on lockdown. Press was instructed to actually leave the White House grounds and out here, you can see there is a swarm of protesters out in front of the White House. There are reports that they were trying to take down the statute of Andrew Jackson that is in the square right in front of the White House and as we were walking back through here, we saw several protesters who said they had fired some substance at them. They aren’t sure if it was tear gas, pepper spray.”
Cooper and Collins were nearly aghast at the situation.
“It’s interesting that the White House, the Secret Service chose to ask reporters to leave,” Cooper observed, moments later. “It doesn’t seem like at this stage there’s an immediate threat on the White House itself.”
“No, and that’s what is so unusual,” Collins emphasized. “I’m telling you, I’ve been reporting on this White House since the day Donald Trump was inaugurated and we’ve never been asked to physically leave the White House. They will take us off of the front lawn. They will move us slightly indoors, keep us indoors if they think there is a security threat but they had us leave the White House grounds tonight. It’s not clear why the Secret Service made that decision. We’re clear far back from the White House, probably 200 yards back, as we try to figure out why the Secret Service made that decision to clear reporters out.”
As of this writing, the White House has given no indication as to the reasoning behind the press’ removal.