Peaceful protesters just outside the White House gates in Washington were dispersed with tear gas, flash grenades and rubber bullets on Monday night to allow U.S. President visit a nearby church.
The episode, which amounted to one of the most highly charged and discordant moments in recent presidential history, came as nationwide unrest escalates and as Trump comes under pressure to demonstrate a modicum of conciliation for a country torn along racial, ideological and political lines.
He did not offer that on Monday, choosing instead to retrench.
He called violent protests “domestic acts of terror” which law enforcement would “dominate the streets” to quell.
“If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said.
(Watch the video of the dispersal of protesters shared by Reuters:
With the constant sound of helicopter blades overhead and a steady succession of bangs from nearby Lafayette Park, Trump declared himself an “ally of all peaceful protesters.”
But as he was speaking, peaceful protesters were being urgently dispersed outside the White House gates by police using rubber bullets, tear gas and flash bangs.
Several protesters were seen pouring water into their eyes to ease the gas’s sting.
Later, Trump walked across the park to St. John’s Episcopal Church, a house of worship used by American presidents for more than a century that was partially burned in a Sunday evening protest.
“We have the greatest country in the world,” Trump said in front of the church.
He held the a Bible, surrounded by aides.
Among them were the national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Attorney General Bill Barr, senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Others were the Defense Secretary Mark Esper and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Trump remained at the boarded-up building for a matter of minutes before returning inside the White House.
It was unlike Friday when he was reportedly rushed into the White House bunker, when the first Floyd protest was staged in front of the White House—CNN