On Sunday night, the basement of historic St. John’s Episcopal church near the White House was set on fire by rioters. On Monday night, President Trump decided to take a photo in front of the church holding a Bible in the air.
To clear the way for the photo op, protesters near the church were dispersed by Secret Service and police about 30 to 45 minutes before the city’s 7:00 p.m. curfew took effect.
Videos of the incident:
Here's the moment where police fired teargas into a crowd of peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park, just minutes before Trump's address in the Rose Garden. pic.twitter.com/KPjxMKdDyx
— Cameron Peters (@jcameronpeters) June 1, 2020
We asked Trump if that was his family Bible he was holding up. He didn’t hear at first, amid sirens sounding near St John’s church, so we asked “Is that your Bible?"
“It’s *a* Bible," he answered. pic.twitter.com/kE88c0Ubw2
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) June 2, 2020
There are conflicting reports about whether tear gas or smoke cannisters were used to disperse the crowd. Tim Carney, who was on the scene last night, writes: “If Trump knew he was going to do this, he could have had the Secret Service set up the barricade further out before the evening protests got crowded. Then there would have been no shoving, no smoke grenades needed.” Read his full report here.