GOP Senator: Trump Used “The Word Of God” As A “Political Prop”
The Hill reports that Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) said in a statement that he disagreed with President Donald J. Trump’s move to force nonviolent demonstrators away from Lafayette Square in order to be photographed in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.
- National Guard, United States Park Police and Secret Service used rubber bullets and tear gas to clear the area in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church. ABC News reports that this happened approximately 20 minutes before the curfew began that night.
- After the crowd cleared, Trump walked across the square with several members of his cabinet. Staff photographed them in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, and Trump posed with a Bible.
- White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has denied the use of “tear gas,” instead referring to the Park Police’s pepper balls and smoke canisters as “chemical agents.”
- The Reverend Gini Gerbasi was among those affected by the police effort to clear the crowd, Religion News Service reports. A former rector for St. John’s, she was present with 20 other priests to provide a “peaceful presence.”
- The Hill notes that a few other Republican senators, including Senators Tim Scott (SC), Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) have also “broken with the White House.”
- However, “several others have sidestepped by saying they haven't seen footage of the incident or defended it because it followed nights of protests and riots around Washington, D.C.”
- Sasse, who won his Senate primary last month, said, “There is a fundamental—a Constitutional—right to protest, and I'm against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the Word of God as a political prop.”
- Sasse affirmed in the same statement that there was”no right to riot, no right to destroy others' property, and no right to throw rocks at police.”
Sasse also said,
Every public servant in America should be lowering the temperature and that means saying two basic truths over and over: (1) police injustice—like the evil murder of George Floyd—is repugnant and merits peaceful protest aimed at change; (2) riots are abhorrent acts of violence that hurt the innocent. Say both things loudly and repeatedly, as Americans work to end the violence and injustice.