‘Outraged’: Trump faces condemnation for clearing protesters, threatening military force

Source: Politico | June 2, 2020 | Quint Forgey

Meanwhile, local and state leaders objected to the commander in chief’s push to deploy troops to their communities.

President Donald Trump faced withering criticism in the hours after spurring a violent incursion against apparently peaceful protesters for the purposes of staging a political photo opportunity — provoking rebukes Tuesday from local and state executives, congressional lawmakers, faith leaders and even foreign governments over the extraordinary show of force amid converging national crises.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser revealed officials within her office were “very shocked and, quite frankly, outraged” by the aggressive dispersal of crowds demonstrating outside the White House on Monday evening, facilitated by police officers and National Guard troops firing rubber bullets and deploying flash-bang grenades.

The mayor insisted no officers with the Metropolitan Police Department were involved in the effort to force protesters from Lafayette Square and the surrounding area. The park was cleared nearly an hour before Washington’s 7 p.m. curfew was to go into effect in order to open a path for Trump, top White House aides and senior administration officials to venture across the street to historic St. John’s Episcopal Church.

“At no time did we think it was appropriate that people who had not violated the curfew or anything else receive that treatment,” Bowser told CNN, saying she could not comment on “what made the federal authorities think it was appropriate to clear the way for that purpose.”

Prominent members of the Christian clergy in the United States similarly condemned Trump’s decision to then pose with a Bible outside the so-called Church of the Presidents, which had been partly damaged by a basement fire during protests during the weekend.

The president hoisted the holy book “as if it were spiritual validation and justification for a message that is antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and to the God of justice,” the Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, told ABC News.

Jesuit priest James Martin argued on CNN that the use of violence “to remove peacemakers from in front of the church — so you can hold up a Bible and say how great America is while you’re promising military action against peaceful protesters — seems to me to be the complete opposite of what Jesus taught.”

Ahead of Trump’s scheduled visit Tuesday to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory called it “baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles.”

The late pope, Gregory said in his statement, “was an ardent defender of the rights and dignity of human beings,” and “certainly would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace.”

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