Police in Washington D.C. fired tear gas at protesters moments before President Donald Trump began his speech at the White House Rose Garden Monday evening, amid the ongoing protests against police brutality. Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Chief of Police Peter Newsham set a new curfew for the city, beginning at 7 p.m. ET. The protests started last week, following the death of George Floyd on May 25.
Just as Trump took the podium at the Rose Garden, cameras spotted protesters only blocks from the White House being hit with tear gas. Police were also using flash bangs to disperse what was a peaceful protest, reports the Associated Press. The videos were filmed just over an hour before the D.C. curfew went into effect. The previous curfew on Sunday night began at 11 p.m., but D.C. officials moved it up to 7 p.m. The curfew will end at 6 a.m. Tuesday. Officials ordered restaurants and non-essential businesses to close, reports NBC Washington.
The area outside the White House looks like a warzone right now pic.twitter.com/MgoUnrPh6l— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 1, 2020
During his speech, Trump said he was an "ally of all peaceful protesters" before saying he is "mobilizing" federal resources, including civilian and military to "stop the rioting and looting, to end the destruction and arson. And to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your Second Amendment rights."
At one point, explosions could be heard while he was finishing up his speech. He threatened the 7 p.m. curfew in Washington would be "strictly enforced." Afterward, Trump walked to St. John's Church. According to reports, the protesters were tear-gassed so Trump could walk to the church, even though the protest was peaceful.
Earlier Monday, Newsham said the violent protesters were the cause for the early Monday night curfew. "This will disrupt your lives," he said. "This is a decision that was forced upon us by the behavior of the people who are intent on coming to our city and destroying property and hurting people."
POTUS looks to be joined by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Milley, DOD Sec Esper, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Dan Scavino, National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien and others from the WH https://t.co/OOHwKhzuoL— Meridith McGraw (@meridithmcgraw) June 1, 2020
Trump's speech followed his phone call with governors Monday morning. He criticized them for what he called a "weak" response to protests. "You have to dominate, if you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time," Trump told the governors at one point. He later added, "They’re going to run over you. You’re going to look like a bunch of jerks."