Peaceful Protesters Gassed Outside WH So Trump Could Get Photo Op At Church
Ahead of President Donald Trump’s address to the nation on Monday, police reportedly used tear gas to break up peaceful protesters outside the White House to clear a path so Trump could later grab a photo op at a nearby church.
Buzzfeed News reported that demonstrators were gathered peacefully outside the White House, “chanting and holding signs several feet away from police who were lined up in full riot gear.”
As Trump’s address drew near, which the news outlet noted was announced only shortly beforehand, “police suddenly came face-to-face with the crowd” and “charged the crowd as demonstrators tried to flee.”
Police could be seen “swinging their batons at protesters' backs, punching reporters, and using their shields to hit photographers” in footage of the incident.
After his address, Trump walked through the path police cleared for a photo op at St. John's Episcopal Church.
The church had suffered fire damage during protests the night before.
Trump stood in front of the church holding a Bible and said the United States is the "greatest country in the world,” adding that "we're going to keep it that way."
During his address, Trump told Americans he was prepared to unleash the U.S. military on American citizens if protests were not brought under control by governors, whom he called “weak” earlier in the day.
“I am also taking swift and decisive action to protect our great Capitol Washington DC. What happened in this city last night was a total disgrace. As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement offices to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism assaults and the wanton destruction of property,” he said, amid split-screen scenes of police hitting people with plexiglass shields.
Rev. Mariann Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, criticized Trump for using tear gas to disperse crowds ahead of his photo op at the church and blasted him “for using a Bible and the church as ‘a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our church stands for.’"
"To do so, he sanctioned the use of tear gas by police officers in riot gear to clear the church yard," Budde wrote in a message posted on Twitter. "I am outraged. The President did not pray when he came to St. John's; nor did he acknowledge the agony and sacred worth of people of color in our nation who rightfully demand an end to 400 years of systemic racism and white supremacy in our country."