For hours yesterday afternoon, a large group of protesters were gathered close to the White House, in Lafayette Park. They were entirely peaceful, and most of them were just kids, mostly black teenagers. Then Donald Trump decided to give a speech at the White House about how he was going to order the United States military into American cities to end the peaceful protests. Someone – likely Stephen Miller – wanted a certain optic for that speech. So military police were sent out to violently move the peaceful protesters from Lafayette Park. The military used tear gas, flash-bangs, batons and shields to forcibly disperse a peaceful crowd of kids. Reporters covering Trump’s speech noted that they could hear the flash-bangs from the White House garden. Trump wanted that split screen on all of the news channels. He got it.
Of course, Trump had another reason for gassing kids and using military force on nonviolent protesters: he wanted the area cleared because he wanted a photo-op. After the kids were gassed and cleared from a public area BY THE UNITED STATES MILITARY, Trump waddled over to St. John’s Church, which had been damaged in some recent protests. Trump didn’t go into the church. No. He just stood outside of the church and held a Bible upside down so everyone would take his photo. The Episcopal bishop of Washington was not having any of it:
The Right Rev. Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, was seething.
“I am outraged,” Budde said in a telephone interview a short time later, pausing between words to emphasize her anger as her voice slightly trembled. She said she had not been given any notice that Trump would be visiting the church and did not approve of the manner in which the area was secured for his appearance.
“I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop,” Budde said. She excoriated the president for standing in front of the church — its windows boarded up with plywood — holding up a Bible, which Budde said “declares that God is love.”
“Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence,” Budde of the president. “We need moral leadership, and he’s done everything to divide us.”
This all happened as Democratic and Republican local and state leaders were all coming out to encourage Trump to STFU and not say or tweet anything about the protests or anything else. Which is where we are now – a president with zero moral authority, who orders the gassing of children so he can do a fascist photo-op at a church.
Photos courtesy of Backgrid.