Protesters outside the White House were hit with rubber bullets and tear gas by police as President Donald Trump addressed reporters in the Rose Garden on Monday.
Trump was not scheduled to make a public appearance on Monday, but he tweeted that he’d be addressing the nation from the Rose Garden with a half-hour notice to the media.
While reporters waited in the Rose Garden, protesters just outside the White House gates were being hit with tear gas by police. After Trump started his speech, the violence outside continued, and it was possible to hear rubber bullets and tear gas being shot at protesters during the address.
The president began his speech saying, “All Americans were rightly sickened by the brutal death of George Floyd. Justice will be served. He will not have died in vain.
“I am your president of law and order,” Trump continued. “I am an ally of all peaceful protesters. … I am mobilizing all available federal resources, 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.”
Trump said of the people attacking protesters and looting businesses, “These are not acts of peaceful protests, these are acts of domestic terror… a crime against God. America needs creation, not destruction. … This is our mission and we will succeed.”
Lafayette Park Was Reportedly Cleared Out to Allow Trump to Visit St. John’s Church
Trump did not take questions after his speech. Before leaving the podium, he announced that he needed to pay homage “to a very special place.” It wasn’t clear at first where he was heading, but Axios reporter Alexi McCammond tweeted, “Source tells me park rangers are clearing Lafayette Park (with tear gas) because President Trump is going to walk to St. John’s church from the White House soon.”
CBS News White House reporter Mark Knoller tweeted, “Standing in front of St. John’s Church, boarded up against violent protests, and with senior staff at his side, plus Attorney General Barr, Pres Trump says ‘we have the greatest country in the world.’ Holding a Bible, he says he’ll keep the country ‘nice and safe.’”
Trump Had a Video Conference With Governors Earlier in the Day to Discuss the Violent Protests
On Monday morning, Trump spoke to state governors and law enforcement officials about their response to the national protests. He said, “Most of you are weak. You have to arrest people.” The president encouraged governors to deploy the National Guard and to “go after troublemakers.”
“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,” said Trump. “We’re doing it in Washington, D.C. We’re going to do something that people haven’t seen before.”