You may have heard on social media, and from lefty rags like Vanity Fair, that President Trump had Lafayette Park cleared of peaceful protesters with tear gas so that he could walk over to St. John’s church for a “photo op” with his Bible.
First, here is what Vanity Fair reported:
After spending the weekend hiding out in a bunker, President Donald Trump emerged Monday to deliver an address from the Rose Garden, in which he vowed to use the military against American citizens on U.S. soil while failing to console an American public outraged and heartbroken by racial injustice. And as the president promised to escalate the use of force in the nationwide protests that have already resulted in significant police brutality against peaceful protesters, journalists, and bystanders, his administration wasted no time in getting started. Steps away from Trump’s address, federal police used tear gas and other violent measures to forcibly clear a crowd of peaceful protesters outside the White House, instigating a chaotic and dangerous clash—apparently so that the president could stand outside a church and have photos taken of him holding a Bible.
Federal police and security officials used tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash bangs against the crowd of peaceful protesters who had assembled in Lafayette Park just outside the White House, unleashing tear gas mere minutes before Trump’s address began. As with other recent protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, the police appeared to be indiscriminate in who they targeted with their force, acting out against journalists as well as peaceful protesters. “They chased us down that street, and as you see, they were firing rubber bullets at everyone, there is tear gas now, and we are really surrounded by the police,” journalist Amelia Brace reported on Australia’s Seven News moments after she and her cameraman were charged by police. “They are quite violent, and they do not care who they are targeting at the moment.” (The escalation of force, ironically, came literally as Trump claimed he was an “ally of all peaceful protesters.”)
Well, that’s not exactly true. Where to begin? First of all, as we all know, President Trump left the White House on Saturday for Florida, so he didn’t spend the weekend “hiding out in a bunker”. Second, it wasn’t federal troops, or even the Secret Service. It was the Park Service police. Third, the protesters weren’t peaceful. Fourth, there was no tear gas. Here’s what the Chief of the United States Park Police reports:
On Monday, June 1, the USPP worked with the United States Secret Service to have temporary fencing installed inside Lafayette Park. At approximately 6:33 pm, violent protestors on H Street NW began throwing projectiles including bricks, frozen water bottles and caustic liquids. The protestors also climbed onto a historic building at the north end of Lafayette Park that was destroyed by arson days prior. Intelligence had revealed calls for violence against the police, and officers found caches of glass bottles, baseball bats and metal poles hidden along the street.
To curtail the violence that was underway, the USPP, following established policy, issued three warnings over a loudspeaker to alert demonstrators on H Street to evacuate the area. Horse mounted patrol, Civil Disturbance Units and additional personnel were used to clear the area. As many of the protestors became more combative, continued to throw projectiles, and attempted to grab officers’ weapons, officers then employed the use of smoke canisters and pepper balls. No tear gas was used by USPP officers or other assisting law enforcement partners to close the area at Lafayette Park. Subsequently, the fence was installed.
Feel free to pass this along to your leftist acquaintances on social media. I have.
As a bonus, I’m sharing this photo of a Secret Service counter assault team member carrying a sniper rifle through Lafayette Park Monday evening. There’s something for everyone here – a hunky guy and a sexy assault weapon.