Trump takes credit for stifling demonstration in Washington, DC

Riot police chase a man as they rush protestors to clear Lafayette Park and the area around it across from the White House for President Donald Trump to be able to walk through for a photo opportunity in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, during a rally against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, near the White House, in Washington, U.S. June 1, 2020.

Ken Cedeno | Reuters

President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning personally thanked himself on Twitter for what he said was the “Domination” and “overwhelming force” that kept relative peace on the streets of Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis the previous night after days of protests over the death of George Floyd at police hands.

Trump’s boast came a day after police violently cleared the area of protesters in front of the White House with tear gas, flash grenades and batons so that the president could walk out and pose for photos at the nearby St. John’s Episcopal Chapel.

Trump held a Bible aloft as cameras captured images of him standing grim-faced in front of the church, where priests and other religious workers were forced to flee the area by the authorities’ actions. The church had been set on fire by protesters the night before.

“D.C. had no problems last night. Many arrests. Great job done by all. Overwhelming force. Domination. Likewise, Minneapolis was great (thank you President Trump!),” he tweeted.

Before his church visit Monday, Trump had announced that he was mobilizing federal resources, both civilian and military, to respond to the protests. He said that if any city or state refused to take steps to defend lives and property he would deploy the U.S. military to those areas.

Trump in another Twitter post on Tuesday morning criticized New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his brother, CNN journalist Chris Cuomo, whom the president derisively called “Fredo,” after the inept Corleone family brother played by the late John Cazale in “The Godfather” movies. 

Trump suggested that violence and looting seen on the streets of New York City on Monday night was the result of Gov. Cuomo’s failure to accept the president’s offer to deploy the National Guard there.

“Yesterday was a bad day for the Cuomo Brothers. New York was lost to the looters, thugs, Radical Left, and all others forms of Lowlife & Scum,” Trump wrote.

“The Governor refuses to accept my offer of a dominating National Guard. NYC was ripped to pieces. Likewise, Fredo’s ratings are down 50%!”

Former vice president Joe Biden, who is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president this year, criticzed Trump’s response Tuesday morning.

“When peaceful protestors are dispersed by the order of the president from the doorstep of the people’s house, the White House — using tear gas and flash grenades — in order to stage a photo op at a noble church, we can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle,” Biden said.

The Right Rev. Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, in an interview with The Washington Post, said that despite her position she “was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop.”

“He did not pray,” Budde told The New York Times.

“He did not mention George Floyd, he did not mention the agony of people who have been subjected to this kind of horrific expression of racism and white supremacy for hundreds of years. We need a president who can unify and heal. He has done the opposite of that, and we are left to pick up the pieces.”

Protests over Floyd’s death have taken place in many U.S. cities since he died on Memorial Day during an arrest by Minneapolis police.

Floyd, who was black, had a white police officer’s knee kept on his neck for more than eight minutes, despite him repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe.” Police had arrested him on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill to make a purchase.

Derek Chauvin, the cop whose knee was on Floyd’s neck, has been charged with third-degree murder in the killing. He and the three other officers were all fired by the Minneapolis Police Department after video of the arrest became public and sparked the protests.

Trump during a conference call on Monday morning with governors had accused many of them of being “weak” in responding to the protests.

Trump said in that call, “You have to dominate, if you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks.”

“You’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again,”  the president said.

Two Democratic governors, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois and Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer condemned the president’s rhetoric.

Pritzker told Trump on the call that his words have “been inflammatory” and are making the situation surrounding Floyd’s death “worse.”

Whitmer said in a statement after the call, “The president’s dangerous comments should be gravely concerning to all Americans, because they send a clear signal that this administration is determined to sow the seeds of hatred and division, which I fear will only lead to more violence and destruction.”

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