Protesters peacefully exercising their First Amendment right outside the White House were tear gassed on Monday. Why? So that Donald Trump — a former reality TV star — could have a made-for-TV moment of violence as he spoke to the nation. Oh, and so he could walk across the street and hold a bible in front of a church.
The scene unfolded outside the White House shortly after 6:30 p.m. ET on Monday. What had been a peaceful protest in Lafayette Park descended into chaos as police officers turned violent and deployed tear gas and flash-bangs. A short time later Trump spoke to the nation from the Rose Garden, where he threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act, which would allow him to use the U.S. military to stop riots and protests across the country.
We’ve finally invaded ourselves. I hope we bring democracy to us.
— Gareth Reynolds (@reynoldsgareth) June 1, 2020
After speaking to the country — flash-bangs audible in the background — Trump and a few others, including Attorney General Bill Barr, walked across the street to take this photo in front of St. John’s Church as he held the bible. A small fire was set at the historic church on Sunday evening amid widespread unrest in the city.
Let me repeat: The President of the United States ordered police to take violent action against peaceful protesters so he could stage a photo op.
Protests have broken out in dozens of cities across the country this week following the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody after an officer kneeled on his neck for nearly 9 minutes in Minneapolis. While many protests have been peaceful, some have turned violent and led to looting and destruction. Thousands of people have been arrested.
While the President invoked George Floyd’s name as an opportunity to visit the church, the scene that unfolded to get there was disturbing to those peacefully protesting and people watching from home.
As the president was speaking, his son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted this now-deleted explanation for his father’s bizarre decision to do all of this outside:
Don Jr. is referring to the fact that Trump was taken to a secure bunker on Friday as angry protests took place outside the White House.
So what did this hasty decision to crack down on protesters for show result in? Well the photos from outside the church seem to have had the opposite of the desired effect — making him look ghoulish and stiff.
If you’d like to help support protesters fighting for justice for George Floyd, here is a helpful resource.
This is a developing story…