U.S. President Donald Trump has turned Washington D.C. into a model of overwhelming force that he says will stop the protests against police brutality that have dotted the United States.
On Monday night, Trump announced that he would dispatch thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military, and police in D.C. to stop what he called “rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property.”
Just minutes before he took to the podium, police and National Guard descended on protestors with police on horseback, tear gas, rubber bullets, and batons. Many of the protestors, including children, fled the area. The city’s 7 p.m. curfew had not yet begun.
While vandalism has taken place in cities across the United States, the majority of people have been practicing non-violent protest.
Watch his speech above, and the near simultaneous crackdown just steps from the White House.
Trump strongly recommended that governors to use National Guard members to “dominate the streets”.
“If the city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residence, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said from the White House Rose Garden.
Following his speech, Trump walked to historic Lafayette Park, in front of the White House, which had been cleared of protestors by police, to pose with a Bible in front of St. John’s Church.
The Rev. Mariann Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington which runs St. Johns said she was “outraged” by Trump’s visit.
“He took the symbols sacred to our tradition and stood in front of a house of prayer in full expectation that would be a celebratory moment,” Budde told the Associated Press.
Trump’s visit “did not serve the spiritual aspirations or the needed moral leadership that we need,” she told NBC’s “Today” on Tuesday. “It did not address the grievous wounds that were are dealing with and the agony of our country.”
Even members of Trump’s own party spoke against Trump’s actons.
“There is no right to riot, no right to destroy others’ property, and no right to throw rocks at police,” said Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse. “But there is a fundamental — a constitutional — right to protest, and I’m against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the Word of God as a political prop.”
Trump on Tuesday appeared to be backing off his threat to deploy federal troops to quell unrest under the 1807 Insurrection Act, the AP reported. White House officials said Monday night’s events indicated that the resources already available to local governments should be able to restore order.
“New York was lost to the looters, thugs, Radical Left, and all others forms of Lowlife & Scum,” Trump tweeted. “The Governor refuses to accept my offer of a dominating National Guard. NYC was ripped to pieces.”
Story with information from the Associated Press.