U.S. Park Police and National Guard troops fired teargas at nonviolent protesters against the police killing of George Floyd, on Monday afternoon, to make way for President Trump’s walk from the White House through Lafayette Park to the Episcopal church. He was accompanied by his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, along with Attorney General William Barr and other administration officials. In what appears to have been a publicity stunt, camera crews kept up with Trump as he marched through the park.
Outside the church, Trump stopped briefly and held up a Bible, saying “We have the greatest country in the world, keep it nice and safe.”
The US President’s spontaneous visit angered St. John’s Church authorities, who were furious that the White House did not bother to inform them of the visit beforehand.
The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, with oversight responsibilities for the church, said, “There was no reaching out, no sense that it would require some sort of authorization before using the church as a backdrop in that way.” She was incensed further, when Trump held up a Bible, without praying or quoting an appropriate verse.
Budde told NPR News of Trumps pose with a Bible, “It almost looked like a prop.” She added, “That is the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition……….I was outraged that he felt that he had the license to do that, and that he would abuse our sacred symbols and our sacred space in that way.”
A former St. John’s minister, Gini Gerbasi, was among those attending to the protesters in front of the church when the police moved in.
She wrote in a Facebook post: We were literally DRIVEN OFF of the St. John’s, Lafayette Square patio with tear gas and concussion grenades and police in full riot gear. PEOPLE WERE HURT SO THAT [President Trump] COULD HAVE A PHOTO OPPORTUNITY IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH!!!
Umm Muhammed Umar