Democratic and Episcopal leaders say President Donald Trump “fanned the flames” of discord after peaceful protesters allowed to participate in church photo op
Just after midnight on Tuesday, the White House tweeted a video of the Commander-in-Chief confidently walking towards a church.
With dramatic background music, the president Donald trump leaves the executive mansion as a host of Secret Service agents and staff follow him. He is heading to St. John’s Episcopal Church, which had been damaged by fire amid nationwide unrest following the police murder of a black man named George floyd in Minneapolis last week.
Suddenly, the President holds up a Bible with his right hand in front of the historic place of worship, known as the “Church of Presidents”. After his safe return, the video goes black and the White House logo appears.
The White House video does not show how the streets were cleared for the president.
About 30 minutes before the 7 p.m. curfew in Washington began, peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square were forced to disperse by mounted federal police and shield-armed authorities who walked through the legal gathering using gas. tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bangs.
“25 minutes before the curfew and without provocation, federal police used ammunition on peaceful protesters outside the White House, an act that will do the job of @DCPoliceDept more difficult officers. Shameful! ”Tweeted Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.
The authorities’ actions took place on live television and came as the President addressed the Rose Garden press, saying he supported justice for Floyd. “I am your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters,” he said.
“Cure not hate, justice not chaos. This is our mission, ”Trump continued, announcing he was taking“ immediate action ”to mobilize all resources, including the military, to stop the violence and looting. He called on governors to “rule the streets”.
And then, once the street was clear, the president went to church, with White House staff filming.
Several Trump aides told multiple media outlets, including The Washington Post and CNN, that the photoshoot was in part motivated by the president’s rage with reports that the Secret Service – fearing for his safety amid Friday night’s protests – rushed him into an underground bunker previously used during the terrorist attacks.
But the president’s allies and Trump’s campaign team defended the staged event as a show of leadership.
Fox News host Martha MacCallum said the moment felt like Trump was “sort of, you know, take back this territory where we saw such an extraordinary anarchy “Sunday night.
The president’s actions drew fierce rebuke from leading Democrats and also from Marian Budde, the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Washington, DC, who said Trump had used “our sacred text as a symbol of division.”
“Tonight, President (Trump) just used a Bible and a church in my diocese as a backdrop for a message contrary to the teachings of Jesus and everything our church stands for,” Budde tweeted. “To do this, he authorized the use of tear gas by police in riot gear to clean up the church yard.”
She noted that Trump “did not come to pray; he did not mourn the death of George Floyd or acknowledge the collective agony of people of color in our nation. He did not try to heal or bring calm to our troubled land.
“We are disciples of Jesus,” she continued. “In no way do we support the President’s inflammatory response to a wounded and grieving nation. We stand in solidarity with those who demand justice for the death of George Floyd through the sacred act of peaceful protest. “
The president has repeatedly expressed sympathy for Floyd’s family.
He also called for an expedited investigation into his death, as well as the death of Ahmaud Arbery, another unarmed black man who was killed while jogging in a predominantly white neighborhood in Georgia.
But the president did not directly respond whether he viewed police brutality as a problem in the United States when asked on Friday; nor did it address the issue of institutional racism. He said what happened to Floyd should never have happened and said most of the police were “exceptional”.
Trump also threatened protesters outside the White House with “vicious dogs” and “threatening weapons” and used the historically racist phrase, “when the looting begins, the shooting begins”. Twitter said the statement was a glorification of violence; Trump said he did not know the origin of the phrase and argued that he tries to prevent the violence that sometimes follows looting.
When asked why Trump had not addressed the nation from the White House to calm racial tensions while tweeting a host of comments that have been criticized, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany pointed to several previous statements from the president in favor of Floyd and peaceful protests. She argued that “continual declarations do not stop lawlessness. What stops anarchy is action and that’s what the president does.
In a joint statement late Monday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the President “continues to stoke the flames of discord, bigotry and violence is cowardly, weak and dangerous “.
“At a time when our country is calling for unification, this president is tearing it apart,” Democrats said. “Gaseous peaceful protesters without provocation just so that the president can pose for pictures in front of a church dishonours all the values that faith teaches us. “