US President Donald Trump made an on-foot visit to the vandalized St. John’s church in the nation’s capital, leaving the White House surrounded by a crowd of Secret Service agents as unrest over police brutality grips the city.
After a brief statement from the White House on Monday evening calling again for an end to the protests and rioting that’s erupted across dozens of American cities, Trump took a stroll to the St. John’s Church near the White House for a surprise photo-op.
“We have the greatest country in the world. Going to keep it nice and safe,” the president said while posing in front of the church, which on Sunday night was vandalized and damaged by fire amid turmoil sparked by the police killing of a Minneapolis man last week.
Moments before the photo-op, as the president prepared to address the nation, clashes erupted between protesters and riot police on the streets of DC, seeing armor-clad officers firing tear gas and other crowd control munitions into a group of demonstrators, who are now violating the city’s 7pm curfew order.
Some 1,700 National Guard troops have been deployed to the city as the unrest rages on, with reports that additional active-duty soldiers and military police could be sent into the capital. In his White House statement, the president vowed to dispatch “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers” and police if the rioting didn’t end – not only to the capital but any of the dozens of cities where similar turmoil has broken out.
After a few minutes outside the church, Trump returned to the White House, flanked by a massive crowd of police and troops, who cleared out nearby Lafayette Park so he could reach the church unimpeded.