WASHINGTON — Individuals who gathered exterior the White Home to protest police brutality spent Monday waving indicators and screaming for justice. They watched as law enforcement officials and Nationwide Guard items flooded Lafayette Sq., delivering on a risk made by President Trump. And simply earlier than town’s 7 p.m. curfew went into impact, they have been hit with flash-bang explosions and doused with tear fuel.
It was as a result of the president, who spent a part of the weekend in a safe bunker as protests roiled, wished to have his image taken holding a Bible at a battered church simply past the gates.
That church, St. John’s — the so-called Church of the Presidents as a result of each one since James Madison has attended — had been briefly set ablaze because the protests devolved on Sunday night. After Mr. Trump’s aides spent a lot of Monday expressing outrage over the burning of a spot of worship, Hope Hicks, a presidential adviser, ultimately hatched a plan with others on the White Home to have the president stroll over to the constructing, based on an official acquainted with the occasions.
As Mr. Trump delivered a speech in the Rose Garden vowing to send the military to states the place governors couldn’t convey rioting beneath management however calling himself “an ally of all peaceable protesters,” the sound of explosions and the yells of demonstrators could possibly be heard. After receiving repeated warnings to disperse earlier than town’s curfew, the group was tear-gassed.
Mr. Trump started his stroll to the church at 7:01 p.m. for a photograph session that lasted about 17 minutes. On his approach over, after protesters had been pushed from the park, he was trailed by a gaggle of aides, together with Legal professional Common William P. Barr. Mr. Barr had strolled to the sting of the police line to watch the group within the minutes earlier than the tear-gassing started.
He walked alongside Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Ivanka Trump, his eldest daughter and senior adviser. Ms. Trump was carrying a masks, one of many few seen reminders on Monday that the administration was in the midst of battling a public well being disaster. Kayleigh McEnany, the White Home press secretary, Ms. Hicks and Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s chief of workers, have been additionally among the many cadre of aides.
As police sirens blared within the background, Mr. Trump, his lips set in a skinny line, stood together with his again to the boarded-up, graffiti-laden facade of the buttermilk yellow church.
He cradled a Bible, bouncing it in his arms as if testing its weight.
“Is that your Bible?” a reporter yelled.
“It’s a Bible,” Mr. Trump responded, and hoisted up the guide so reporters may see.
The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, who watched the scene unfold whereas away from the church visiting along with her mom, stated church officers weren’t advised of the plan and expressed outrage on the White Home’s use of riot-control ways on a typically peaceable crowd to clear a path for the president.
“He didn’t pray,” the bishop, Mariann E. Budde, stated in an interview. Referring to the loss of life of the black man in police custody that set off the protests, she added: “He didn’t point out George Floyd, he didn’t point out the agony of people that have been subjected to this type of horrific expression of racism and white supremacy for a whole lot of years. We want a president who can unify and heal. He has executed the alternative of that, and we’re left to select up the items.”
In Lafayette Sq., one of many visiting monks attending to St. John’s was sprayed with tear fuel as she tried to assist scared demonstrators depart the realm, stated Bishop Budde, who was not on the church when Mr. Trump visited.
Bishop Budde denounced the best way the president held up a Bible throughout his go to, a transfer she interpreted as a political prop.
“The Bible is just not an American doc,” she stated. “It’s not an expression of our nation. It’s an expression of the human wrestle to serve and love and know God.”
The president has been an rare customer to St. John’s, however attended a church service there on the day of his inauguration. Since his election, the church has been dragged into the backdrop of a few of Mr. Trump’s most partisan fights. Final spring, Robert S. Mueller III, the particular counsel who led the investigation surrounding the Trump marketing campaign’s ties to Russian interference within the 2016 election, drew a gawking crowd exterior St. John’s earlier than his report was launched.
Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York.