The White House is one of the most famous landmarks in the world but what is the meaning of the building’s lights being turned off?

The year 2020 has begun in unprecedented fashion.

After WWIII almost broke out and Australia was ravaged by bushfires in January, the world has been brought to a standstill by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, furious protests have erupted across the US after the death of George Floyd, which has left many parts of the country looking like a warzone.

The protests have sparked an almost tyrannical response from Donald Trump, who had a tweet hidden for ‘glorifying violence.’

Now, the President is at the centre of attention again after Trump and his family reportedly hunkered down in the bunker below the White House and the lights of the building were turned off.

The White House lights turned off amid protests

While hundreds, if not thousands of protesters clashed with police in Washington DC on the night of May 31st, with fires being lit in full view of the White House itself, the lights on the historic presidential residence were switched off.

The gesture may not seem too extraordinary but the White House lights are almost never turned off.

As a result, curiosity has begun to swell about why the lights would be turned off.

Photo by Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

What does it mean when the White House lights are off?

According to The Guardian, the White House lights are only ever turned off in normal times to mark the death of a president.

In these more turbulent times, the act of turning off the White House lights could probably be seen as a way of deterring protestors, removing the brightly lit building from view, almost as if they’re saying nobody is home.

Speaking to Newsweek, White House spokesperson, Hogan Gidley, said: “This is nothing new, the White House lights go out at about 11pm almost every night.”

Only on this occasion, the lights going out just happened to coincide with the start of a curfew imposed on Washington DC which was hoped to quell protests on the city’s streets.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Opinion: Symbolic of Trump’s administration

While the White House lights going out may not signal the death of a president on this occasion, since Trump took office, a lot of global respect for the position of US president has certainly been eroded and many see the act of ‘going dark’ as the epitome of Trump’s time as president.

According to Newsweek, Rep. Lori Trahan accused the President of having “turned the lights off and turned his back” on the people of the US.

For decades, the US has been seen as ‘the land of opportunity’ and people all over the world looked to the US as a competent and caring country and the White House stood as a shining beacon of that.

Over the course of Trump’s presidency, however, the US has become a much more inward-looking nation, even pulling out of the World Health Organisation in the middle of a global pandemic.

The act of turning off the White House lights, resorting to the same tactic people use on Halloween to deter trick or treaters, is symbolic of the fact that Trump seemingly only cares for himself and whether or not he can get re-elected come November, rather than helping the people of his country who feel so aggrieved by recent events.

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