Federal police attacked a group of protesters outside the White House Monday night to make way for Trump to hold a photo op at a nearby church.
Donald Trump's decision to violently attack peaceful protesters on Monday evening, to clear the way for his photo-op at a church near the White House, is being lauded by GOP lawmakers who claim the move was "fearless" and "historic."
Federal police attacked the group of protesters and media outside the White House, launching tear gas and firing at demonstrators with rubber bullets in order to open up a pathway for Trump to walk to St. John's Church, which had been briefly set on fire the night before. The crowd had been protesting the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by a white police officer last month, as well as a number of other racist incidents of police brutality.
The brutality drew loud condemnation from religious leaders, civil rights groups, and Democrats alike, who said Trump's actions violated the tenets of the Bible, trampled on the First Amendment, and looked more like the actions of a dictator rather than the leader of the free world.
Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, who oversees the church, said she was "outraged" by Trump's photo op, telling CNN, "The President just used a Bible, the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and one of the churches of my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus."
She added, "We align ourselves with those seeking justice for the death of George Floyd and countless others. And I just can’t believe what my eyes have seen."
Yet, despite the open violence, more than a half-dozen GOP lawmakers applauded the move.
"The walk from the White House through the burned out and graffiti-covered Lafayette Park to St. John’s Church (that was set on fire last night) this evening by President @realDonaldTrump was a powerful reminder that Americans will not be intimidated by lawlessness and violence," Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) tweeted.
"Share this post if you’re grateful for our fearless President and love America," Babin added in a Facebook post.
Rep. Dan Meuser (R-PA) also praised Trump, saying his walk through a park cleared by police violence was "inspiring," while Rep. Pete King (R-NY) called Trump's move "memorial and historic."
"This act of strength and defiance dramatically emphasized the President’s commitment to law and order and his determination to restoring peace to our nation," King said in a Facebook post of Trump's stunt. "It is essential that all Americans stand united behind our President!"
Other Trump-supporting Republican lawmakers also cheered the move.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) — known for waging stunts on the House floor — posted on Facebook an image of Trump walking through the park that was cleared with tear gas and rubber bullets.
"The thin blue line, Attorney General Barr, and President Donald J. Trump are taking actions that will hopefully result in a return to civilization and the rule of law," Biggs wrote alongside the photo.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), meanwhile, who has said he views his main purpose in Congress is to defend Trump, also praised the violent acts.
"God bless President Donald J. Trump!" Gaetz wrote in a Facebook post, along with a video of Trump walking through the park.
Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU's Human Rights Project, released a statement Monday night condemning what he called "grossly unjustified use of a dangerous chemical weapon" on protesters and the media, and saying it raised "serious human rights concerns under international law."
"Health experts warned that the use of tear gas can have long-term effects on respiratory function," he stated. "Elected officials, including Congress, must investigate this politically-motivated and life-threatening use of indiscriminate weapons."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.