Jun 2, 2020 - Politics & Policy

What it was like when police used tear gas to clear a path for Trump

President Trump walking back to the White House.
President Trump walking back to the White House. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Moments before President Trump began his Rose Garden address, a mass of law enforcement suddenly marched forward in Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House.

Why it matters: It was a jarring scene as police in the nation's capital forcefully cleared young men and women gathered legally in a public park on a sunny evening, all of it on live television.

  • They confronted protesters as many held up their hands, saying: "Don't shoot," AP's Jill Colvin and Darlene Superville report.
  • Soon, law enforcement officers in riot gear were firing tear gas and deploying flash bangs into the crowd.

With smoke still wafting, Trump emerged in the Rose Garden for a dramatic split-screen of his own creation.

  • Soon after, Trump strolled out of the White House gates — something he had never done before — and walked across the park.
  • Sections of the park and surrounding sidewalks were strewn with garbage, including plastic water bottles. Some sections were scrawled with graffiti.

Standing alone outside St. John's Church, Trump held up a black-covered Bible.

  • He didn't talk about George Floyd, the church or the damage it had suffered.

At one point, he stopped and pumped his fist in the air at National Guard members in the distance.

  • "We're going to keep it nice and safe," he said.

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