Clash looms over next coronavirus relief bill
Rubio: Protesters outside White House 'deliberately stayed to trigger police action'
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Monday that the protesters removed from Lafayette Park "deliberately stayed to trigger police action."
The Florida senator tweeted that "many in the media fell for the calculated & deliberate tactics of professional agitators."
"They knew the street needed to be cleared before 7pm curfew," he posted. "But they deliberately stayed to trigger police action & get the story they wanted, that 'police attacked peaceful protestors.' "
Law enforcement deployed tear gas into a crowd of peaceful protesters outside Lafayette Park across the street from the White House as President Trump prepared to speak in the Rose Garden Monday. Authorities began dispersing demonstrators at least 15 minutes before the city's 7 p.m. curfew was set to take effect.
After he spoke, the president traveled on foot to visit St. John's Church, which had been set on fire during Sunday demonstrations, where he posed for photos while holding a bible.
"I imposed a curfew at 7pm. A full 25 minutes before the curfew & w/o provocation, federal police used munitions on peaceful protestors in front of the White House, an act that will make the job of @DCPoliceDept officers more difficult," Bowser tweeted. "Shameful! DC residents - Go home. Be safe."
Protests have erupted across the country in response to the death of George Floyd after he was detained by police in Minneapolis last week.
Bystander video footage showed former officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck while Floyd said he could not breathe and became unresponsive. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter and was fired from the police department.
Three other officers involved in the arrest were fired but have not been charged.
Trump announced Monday that he was mobilizing the military in D.C. He threatened to send troops to cities across the country if governors did not use their National Guards to quell the protests.