US President Donald Trump spurred fresh outrage on Monday after police used tear gas to clear protesters from outside the White House so he could pose for photographs at a nearby church damaged during the civil unrest.
The move earned him a sharp rebuke from the city mayor, the Episcopal bishop, and leading Democrats, including former vice president Joe Biden, who decried the use of force merely “for a photo”.
Trump’s visit to the historic St John’s Church, across the street from the White House, came after he delivered an address denouncing vandalism that followed anti-racism protests gripping the country for a week.
As he spoke, law enforcement, including military police, could be seen firing tear gas to clear peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park, outside the White House, so the president could walk over to the church.
Known as “the Church of the Presidents,” St John’s was sprayed with graffiti and partially damaged by fire during unrest on Sunday.
The protests were triggered following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota last week.