Secret Service agents took U.S. President Donald Trump to a bunker at the White House on Friday night when hundreds of protesters gathered outside the presidential mansion, some of them throwing stones and waving police barriers.

Trump spent nearly an hour in the bunker, designed for use in emergencies such as terrorist attacks, according to a Republican close to the White House who was not authorized to comment publicly on private matters, and spoke on condition of anonymity. His version was confirmed by a government official who also spoke on condition of anonymity.

The officers ‘sudden decision reflected the tense atmosphere at the White House, where protesters’ chants in Lafayette Park could be heard throughout the weekend, as security and Secret Service agents tried to contain the crowd.

Friday’s protests began with the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer squeezed his neck. The protests in Washington turned violent and seemed to take the authorities by surprise. They caused one of the largest alert situations in the White House complex since the attacks of September 11, 2001.

“The White House does not comment on security decisions and protocols,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere. The Secret Service noted that it did not comment on the means and methods of its protection operations. The New York Times first reported the president’s move to the bunker.

The volume and acrimony of the crowds have shocked the president and his family, according to the Republican source. At first it was unclear whether the first lady, Melania Trump, and the couple’s 14-year-old son, Barro, had joined the president in the bunker. Secret Service protocol would have indicated that all people under the agency’s protection go to the underground shelter.

Trump has told his aides that he fears for their safety, and has publicly and privately praised the work of the Secret Service.

Trump traveled to Florida on Saturday to attend the first manned space launch from the United States in nearly a decade. He returned to a White House almost under siege, with protesters – some violent – gathered a few hundred meters away for much of the night.

Trump continued his efforts to portray himself as forceful, using a series of provocative tweets and partisan attacks amid the national crisis.

As cities burned night after night and images of violence dominated television coverage, Trump aides toyed with the possibility of a message from the Oval Office in an attempt to ease tensions. The idea was quickly discarded due to a lack of legislative proposals and the president’s apparent disinterest in transmitting a message of unity.

Trump did not appear in public on Sunday. Instead, a White House official who was not authorized to comment on the plans ahead of time said Trump was expected in the next few days to draw distinctions between the legitimate discontent of peaceful protesters and the unacceptable actions of violent agitators. .

Trump retweeted a message Sunday from a conservative commentator urging authorities to respond more forcefully.

“This is not going to stop until the good guys are willing to use overwhelming force against the bad guys,” Buck Sexton wrote, in a message amplified by the president.

In recent days, National Guard agents and additional personnel from the Secret Service and the Park Police have reinforced the security of the White House.

The Justice Department on Sunday deployed members of the Federal Marshals Service and agents of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to support National Guard agents deployed to the White House, according to a member. Justice Department Highlight. The official could not comment on the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.