Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Monday claimed that President Trump had D.C. protesters “viciously attacked” after they reportedly refused to clear the area outside of Lafayette Park.
“Trump just had peaceful demonstrators viciously attacked,” Sanders claimed. “No, Mr. President. This is not a dictatorship. This is the United States of America. Our citizens have a constitutional right to peacefully protest. It’s called the First Amendment”:
Trump just had peaceful demonstrators viciously attacked. No, Mr. President. This is not a dictatorship. This is the United States of America. Our citizens have a constitutional right to peacefully protest. It's called the First Amendment.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 2, 2020
Philip Wegmann, White House Correspondent for RealClearPolitics, reported that protesters were “warned 3 times over loud speaker by park service and police to clear the area,” citing a source with “direct knowledge”:
Protestors were warned 3 times over loud speaker by park service and police to clear the area, per source with direct knowledge. https://t.co/UidKWHOcF8
— Philip Wegmann (@PhilipWegmann) June 1, 2020
Trump addressed the nation in a Rose Garden press conference Monday evening — the day after rioters wreaked havoc on the city, vandalizing memorials and setting structures ablaze. While he urged governors to take action, he vowed to intervene in the event that local leaders fail to quell the violence.
“If a city or a 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,” the president stated.
He concluded his address with an announcement of his immediate plans to “pay my respects to a very, very special place” — St. John’s Episcopal Church, the day after rioters targeted the beloved church.
Trump walked through Lafayette Park to visit the historic church, holding up a Bible upon his arrival:
— Doug Mills (@dougmillsnyt) June 2, 2020
WATCH: President Trump walks across Lafayette Park to St. John's Church. Holding a Bible he says, "We have a great country. That's my thoughts." pic.twitter.com/A3HS8hR32p
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 1, 2020
We have the greatest country in the world—and we will keep America safe. pic.twitter.com/lqHaUZ4wxW
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 1, 2020
“Here in the nation’s capital, the Lincoln Memorial and the World War Two Memorial have been vandalized,” Trump noted during his Rose Garden address. “One of our most historic churches was set ablaze.”
Sanders is in good company with his critiques, as several progressive leaders expressed outrage over President Trump’s bold speech and subsequent action:
I don’t know anyone in “Antifa.” But I’m against facism. And @realDonaldTrump is a fascist.
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) June 2, 2020
He holds that Bible like it’s burning him.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 2, 2020
This president, who wouldn’t lift a finger to help Americans dying of COVID-19, will gladly impose martial law. Resist.
— Rep. Val Demings (@RepValDemings) June 2, 2020
The President of the United States tear-gassed peaceful protestors in order to clear the way for a useless photo-op outside the White House—just after vowing to activate the military against our own people.
Lives and our democracy are in danger.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) June 2, 2020
He's using the American military against the American people.
He tear-gassed peaceful protesters and fired rubber bullets.
For a photo.
For our children, for the very soul of our country, we must defeat him. But I mean it when I say this: we can only do it together. https://t.co/G1yE67q9Nz
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 2, 2020