White House Says Lights Go Out Same Time 'Almost Every Night' After Facing Criticism for Going Dark Amid Protests

The White House has said there was nothing unusual about the building's lights going out on Sunday evening as the 11 p.m. curfew imposed on residents in Washington, D.C. fell amid protests over the death of George Floyd.

Chaotic scenes had unfolded outside the building, with multiple fires breaking out nearby as protesters demanded justice for Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds during an arrest.

Sunday's protests saw hundreds of people gather in Lafayette Park to call for an end to police brutality and for acknowledgment of impacts of systemic racism in policing.

As the 11 p.m. curfew arrived, the exterior lights outside the north side of the White House were turned off, with The Guardian reporting that "in normal times, they are only ever turned off when a president dies."

The White House, however, has insisted that there was "nothing new" about the lights-out incident.

"This is nothing new," White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley told Newsweek on Monday. "The White House lights go out at about 11 p.m. almost every night," he said.

In the hours after police moved in on crowds to clear them out of Lafayette Park, Twitter was alight with social media users questioning why the White House had gone dark.

Political analyst Jared Yates Sexton was one of many to take aim at President Donald Trump over the development, writing: "Like all other strong men, Donald Trump is a coward and soft and terrified. Hiding in the White House and turning off the lights is all on brand. These are insecure, sad little men who build themselves up with the iconography of fascism to hide their fear."

Referencing reports asserting that Trump had previously been whisked away to the White House's "bunker" amid protests, Molly Jong-Fast, editor-at-large at The Daily Beast said: "The president is literally hiding in the White House and turned down the lights. You can't make this stuff up."

Others drew comparisons to when former President Barack Obama was in the White House and saw it lit up with the colors of the rainbow in June in celebration of Pride Month.

Politicians have also taken aim at the Trump administration, with Rep. Lori Trahan accusing the president of having "turned the lights off and turned his back" on U.S. residents.

"At a time when we need thoughtful, empathetic leadership from the White House, Trump has turned the lights off and turned his back to those crying out for change," Trahan said. "When the President fails to lead, Congress must rise to the challenge to fill that void," she said, issuing a call to action to lawmakers.

White House
Police officers hold a perimeter during a protest near the White House in response to the killing of George Floyd May 31, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty