Trump brags that Washington is ‘safest place’ after police teargas protestors

Elias Hubbard
June 3, 2020

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway responded Tuesday to the backlash to President Trump's visit to the historic St. John's Church, where the commander-in-chief held up the Bible.

Moments before President Trump began his Rose Garden address, a mass of law enforcement suddenly marched forward in Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at demonstrators who defied that night's 11pm curfew.

Soon after, Trump strolled out of the White House gates - something he had never done before - and walked across the park. A church is not a photo op.

Washington Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory called it "reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree".

Claiming he is backed by a "silent majority", President Donald Trump turned the nation's capital into a model for the overwhelming force he believes critical to stop sometimes-violent protests that have spread across the country in a time of racial unrest. "Tear-gassing peaceful protestors without provocation just so that the President could pose for photos outside a church dishonors every value that faith teaches us".

Senior defence officials told reporters the two were not aware that the Park Police and law enforcement had made a decision to clear the square or that Trump meant to visit the church.

A source says tear gas was never used - instead smoke cannisters were deployed, which don't have an uncomfortable irritant in them.

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Trump's message is at odds with the values of love and tolerance espoused by the church, Budde said, before describing the president's visit as an opportunity to use the church, and a Bible, as a "backdrop".

"The outlet went on to report that the crowd was pushed back when officers were being hit with water bottles and that protesters had climbed onto the top of a structure at the north end of Lafayette Square that had been attacked and burned a day earlier". The White House announced that the president would make remarks imminently after he has been criticized for not publicly addressing in the crisis in recent days.

Newsweek reached out to the United States Park Police for further comment. Yahoo News White House correspondent Hunter Walker, who covered the protests, said there was "an intense irritant" in the chemical used against protesters.

"I'm there in my little pink sweater, in my collar, my grey hair up in a ponytail, my reading glasses on, and my seminarian who was with me - she got teargas in her eyes", she said.

US state governors are in control of the local national guard, but in Washington the guard reports to the president.

Washington, D.C.'s special status means its 700,000 residents pay federal taxes but don't have political representation in the US capitol, and local politicians have less control over law enforcement.

The latest demonstrations also come after weeks of lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 100,000 Americans, seen tens of millions lose their jobs and has disproportionately affected people of colour, and lower-income communities.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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