Trump visits historic DC church after protesters cleared with tear gas
President Trump walked to visit the historic St. John’s Church near the White House after protesters were forcefully removed from Lafayette Park by law enforcement officers who fired tear gas into the crowd ahead of a citywide curfew.
Trump visited the church after vowing in a Rose Garden address to mobilize the military to help quell protests across the country that broke out following the death of George Floyd.
Trump posed for photos in front of the church, which was set fire Sunday evening as violent protests raged in Washington, D.C., around the White House. Trump held up a Bible while posing for pictures with aides including Attorney General William Barr, chief of staff Mark Meadows and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Trump said the United States was the “greatest country in the world” and that “we’re going to keep it that way.”
Trump during the hastily announced address Monday evening said he would mobilize “all available resources, civilian and military” in order to crack down on protests that have popped up nationwide over the death of Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed in police custody one week ago after a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes. Trump threatened to dispatch troops to states and cities if local leaders do not sufficiently crack down on the demonstrations.
Some of the protests have been peaceful, but they have given way to unruly demonstrations in D.C., Minneapolis and other cities, leading to clashes with law enforcement and destruction of property.
Historic D.C. monuments were vandalized, and windows of business establishments around the White House were shattered. Trump has accused anarchists, looters, antifa and other “radical left-wing groups” of causing the destruction.
Trump said he would deploy military forces to D.C. in order to enforce the city’s 7 p.m. curfew, which went into effect shortly before the president visited the church Monday. He said at the end of his speech that he was going to pay respects “to a very, very special place,” before walking to St. John’s.
The tear gas was used to clear protesters at least 15 minutes before the curfew went into effect.
Trump walked back through the White House gates accompanies by U.S. Secret Service personnel shortly before 7:30 p.m.
National Guard troops assembled in the nation’s capital shortly before Trump delivered his remarks. The president said he was deploying “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults and the wanton destruction of property” in the District.
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