Bishop slams Trump over church photo 'prop'

 

The bishop of a prominent Washington church has accused Donald Trump of "enflaming violence" after he posed outside the building holding a Bible.

Reverand Mariann Budde, who oversees St John's Episcopal Church, said she was "outraged" by the President's decision to use the place of worship for a photo-op during a national crisis.

She told The Washington Post that neither she nor the rector in charge of the church - which suffered fire damage during yesterday's protests - were informed of his visit in advance, nor "that they would be clearing with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop".

Rev Budde went on to criticise the President for being photographed with the Bible, accusing him of seeking to "enflame violence".

"Holding a bible, one that declares that God is love and when everything he has said and done is to enflame violence," she said. "I am beyond. We need moral leadership and he's done everything to divide us and has just used one of the most sacred symbols of the Judeo-Christian tradition."

It came after the President announced he would mobilise "heavily-armed military forces" to stop the "rioting and looting" taking place in protests across the United States, declaring the riots a "total disgrace".

In a dramatic escalation of the country's national crisis, the President said he has recommended every governor to deploy the National Guard to "dominate the streets" to have an "overwhelming presence" to quell the violence.

"First we are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country. We will end it now," he said from the Rose Garden today.

"Today I have strongly recommended to every Governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets. Mayors and Governors must establish and overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled.

"If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them."

He said the nation has been "gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa and others".

The announcement follows days of violent protests that have gripped the nation in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who died after being pinned down by white police officer Derek Chauvin for nearly nine minutes.

Mr Trump described the protests in Washington DC as a "total disgrace", and said he would dispatch "thousands and thousands of heavily-armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers" to "stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property".

He also announced a strict 7pm curfew, saying "organisers of this terror… will face severe criminal penalties and lengthy sentences in jail".

"We have one beautiful law and once that is restored and fully restored, we will help you, we will help your business and we will help your family," he said.

After his address, the President walked out of the White House and staged a televised walk to St John's Church, where thousands of protesters have been gathering.

It comes after Mr Trump lashed out at US governors calling them "weak" and saying they will look like a "bunch of jerks" if they don't start arresting people.

On a video conference with national security officials and top police he said "most of you are weak", according to leaked reports of the conversation.

"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," he said.

"We're doing it in Washington, DC. We're going to do something that people haven't seen before."

Mr Trump said the governors were making themselves "look like fools" for not putting more National Guard on the streets.

He urged leaders of New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles to crack down on protesters and suggested reviewing criminal penalties for burning the American flag.

The comments come as the US wakes in the aftermath of violent protests across the nation on Sunday night following the death of George Floyd.



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