As throngs of protesters continued to demonstrate against police brutality in Washington, D.C. Thursday night, two Nationals Guardsmen posted near Lafayette Square across from the White House were hospitalized following a lightning strike, according to reports.
The soldiers were not directly struck but “felt the effects of a nearby lightning strike” around midnight, Vito Maggiolo, spokesman for the district’s fire and emergency medical services department, said early Friday, according to NBC News.
Their injuries are serious not life-threatening, D.C. Fire said, according to the Washington Post.
The National Guard was deployed to the capital this week to protect protesters and the city’s landmarks as peaceful demonstrations have sometimes been overtaken by agitators, especially in front of the White House.
Thunderstorms that descended on the capital in the evening hardly dampened the spirits of those protesting against the police custody death of George Floyd – a black man who died after a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes last week – but nevertheless brought lightning strikes and a flash flood warning.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a news conference Thursday she wants all out-of-state troops out of the capital.
The National Guard’s presence has become a point of contention in the city after reports came out that that Guard may have been among those who used tear gas on peaceful protesters so President Trump could walk to a historic church set on fire during last weekend’s riots for a photo opportunity.
Both the U.S. Park Police and the Secret Service have deined using tear gas on protesters but admitted to using using smoke canisters and pepper balls to push back the crowd.
The two hospitalized soldiers have not been identified.