On Monday, President Donald Trump addressed the nation after days of protest and riots continue to protest George Floyd's death while in Minneapolis police custody. Trump's speech has already caused plenty of controversy after announcing he'd be calling in the military to combat demonstrators, but a photo opp he took has drawn criticism all its own.
After making his address, Trump proceeded to walk straight to St. John's Episcopal Church, which had been partially burned in recent riots over the weekend. Prior to the photo itself, the area was ordered to be cleared out, which was done by firing tear gas at protesters. While the picture itself (particularly how Trump holds the bible) has caused its own online uproar, peaceful demonstrators being gassed wasn't met with many positive responses.
Trump heading to St John’s church. Asked about clearing out a park for a photo op. pic.twitter.com/4icg7olFPf— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) June 1, 2020
The Right Rev. Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop for Washington, D.C., has already told The Washington Post that the photo opp left her "outraged." Budde added that she was "not given even a courtesy call" and was particularly upset over his "clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop." Based on the conversation online, she was not alone.
Americans are protesting for an end to the pattern of racial injustice & brutality
Yet while America cries out for unification—Pres. Trump is ripping it apart
Tear-gassing peaceful protestors just so he could pose for photos outside a church dishonors every value faith teaches pic.twitter.com/IYTaWm1fS7— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) June 2, 2020
Father James Martin, a prominent Jesuit priest and author, on Trump’s St. John’s church visit: “Let me be clear. This is revolting. The Bible is not a prop. A church is not a photo op. Religion is not a political tool. And God is not a plaything.”— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) June 2, 2020
Trump just stands in front of the church and holds up a bible while posing for photos. He does not even go inside for a faux tour of the damage or make a pretense of having any purpose in going there other than to pose for photos.— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) June 1, 2020
Trump standing outside the church tonight makes it even harder for me to shake the suspicion that the attack on this church that I love was a false flag operation to set up exactly this photo op. I have not proof of that and likely never will. I'll also never shake the suspicion.— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) June 1, 2020
There is so much wrong w/ this picture, I’m enraged. Using federal troops w/ tear gas & rubber bullets to clear out a peaceful demonstration so Trump can have a photo-op at a church. He desecrates the Bible. He desecrates a Christian church. & he desecrates the presidency. Shame pic.twitter.com/xGNDHiDPL0— James J. Zogby (@jjz1600) June 1, 2020
BREAKING: Peaceful protesters were tear-gassed and shot with rubber bullets on Trump’s orders—outside a church across the street from the White House—just so Trump could have a photo op. The Episcopal bishop was outraged, and said that Trump profaned the church by his actions. pic.twitter.com/uJYvZ25W2z— Jon Cooper 🇺🇸 (@joncoopertweets) June 2, 2020
Police used tear gas and flash bangs to clear out peaceful protesters so Trump could have a photo op at St. John’s Church. Just amazing.— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) June 1, 2020
Trump fired tear gas and rubber bullets on peaceful protestors so he could get a photo opp in front a church that didn’t want him there, holding a Bible from which he cannot name a single verse, all to prove he’s not a coward hiding in his bunker again. A perfect encapsulation.— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) June 2, 2020
Donald Trump really just had the police fire tear gas and rubber bullets at peaceful protestors in Washington D.C. to clear the streets for a photo op at a church he doesn't attend with a book he's never read that teaches lessons he doesn't preach. Unbelievable.— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) June 1, 2020
One of the most shameful acts in US history: Peaceful protesters attacked so President Trump can go in front of a church and hold up a Bible for a photo op, minutes after he calls on the US military to mobolize against American citizens. pic.twitter.com/eMpWQc0PuQ— Louis Fishman لوي فيشمان לואי פישמן (@Istanbultelaviv) June 1, 2020
Donald Trump used our tax dollars to tear gas American cirizens who were peacefully protesting, so that he and his gaggle of devoted white men could walk to a closed church for a photo op holding a bible.— Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) June 2, 2020
It’s worth noting that St John’s, the church Trump is standing in front of, as well the Episcopal Church at large, have been staunchly opposed to almost all of Trump’s policies. pic.twitter.com/GJYbJmFx2r— Daniel Burke (@BurkeCNN) June 1, 2020