As President Trump spoke from the Rose Garden, riot police and military police were firing tear gas and flash bangs into a crowd of peaceful protesters assembled at Lafayette Park, across the street from The White House, in an attempt to disperse the crowds.
WATCH: Mounted police use flash bangs to clear protesters in Lafayette Park, near White House, @GarrettHaake reports. pic.twitter.com/PxYrruKzBr
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) June 1, 2020
After authorities drove protesters several blocks back, the president was seen briefly leaving the White House grounds to walk through Lafayette Park, where protesters have amassed every night for the past week.
Trump was joined by a number of administration members, including Attorney General William Barr and his daughter Ivanka Trump.
The president raised a bible in front of St. John’s Church, which had been vandalized the night before by rioters.
MOMENTS AGO: President Trump stands in front of St. John’s Church holding a Bible.
Trump: “We have a great country. That’s my thoughts. Greatest country in the world… It’s coming back. It’s coming back strong.” pic.twitter.com/SeDH3pX7AV
— The Hill (@thehill) June 1, 2020
The violent crackdown on peaceful protesters left MSNBC reporter Garrett Haake in disbelief, calling the action an “extraordinary escalation” by police.
Haake noted that protesters had remained peaceful all day as he reported from Lafayette Park on Monday.
“I want to be super clear about what did and didn’t happen right there, nothing happened on the side that the protesters were in. I was standing with those protesters. I’ve been with them since 2 this afternoon,” Haake reported after the police crackdown. “It was by far the most peaceful day of protest that we’ve had in D.C. since this started Friday night.”
“Then at probably 6:45,” he said, “we had mounted, federal police coming down 8th street, from east to west, clearing people out of the street. In front of them, they were using flash bangs, tear gas. I lost my regular mask and had to replace it with my gas mask so that we could continue to report as we were pushed down 8th street, down 17th street, off to Pennsylvania avenue all while I was listening to the President of the Untied States speak in my ear about ‘Law and Order.’ I was watching people fall down as they ran. I was watching people get pushed aside by police forces and by national guardsman carrying military police shields.”
“I was about 150 to 200 yards away from the front gate of the White House as that was happening. That’s what I experienced, that’s what the tape shows, that’s what history is going to show for tonight and I’m a little shook by the whole thing to be completely honest,” he added.
CNN’s Jim Acosta tweeted: “Police and members of the US military were deployed to clear out a protest so Trump can hold up a Bible outside of church.”
Police and members of the US military were deployed to clear out a protest so Trump can hold up a Bible outside of church. pic.twitter.com/2i0TFCveNp
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) June 1, 2020
The View’s Joy Behar tweeted: “Fascism has come to America. Trump is actually holding a bible while guns are loaded. goodnight America.”
Fascism has come to America. Trump is actually holding a bible while guns are loaded. goodnight America.
— Joy Behar (@JoyVBehar) June 1, 2020
The move sparked outrage on social media.
Trump had protestors gassed and shot by the military police w/ rubber bullets so that he could get a photo holding a bible across the street.
I have no words for how evil this man truly is. pic.twitter.com/I1FNMJL3Nq
— Ethan Somers (@ethanjsomers) June 1, 2020
Trump had protesters tear-gassed to awkwardly hold a bible in front of a church pic.twitter.com/2Ktijus1z0
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) June 1, 2020
A tale of two political leaders today. Trump clears peaceful protesters with tear gas for a photo op with a bible. Biden listens to critics then takes a knee. pic.twitter.com/zurx3uLcmp
— Annie Linskey (@AnnieLinskey) June 1, 2020
This is so utterly disgusting.
Trump had peaceful protesters tear gassed so he could hold up photo op with a Bible in front of a boarded up St. John’s Church.
This isn’t taking a stand for the Christian faith. This is anti-Christ. pic.twitter.com/AWnelXoRSG
— “Zack” Hunt (@ZaackHunt) June 1, 2020