Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker praised President Donald Trump for visiting a church across the street from the White House on Monday after law enforcement used tear gas and shields to clear an area of peaceful protesters.
“Hard to imagine any other @POTUS having the guts to walk out of the White House like this,” Walker tweeted along with a black-and-white photo of Trump striding toward St. John’s Episcopal Church along with Secret Service agents and administration officials.
Trump spoke to reporters from the White House Rose Garden Monday as police cleared protesters from Lafayette Park outside. Trump declared himself “your president of law and order” before walking to St. John’s, which sustained fire damage and vandalism on Sunday. Outside the church, he posed for photos while holding a bible aloft.
Trump’s stroll was intended as a show of strength in the face of protests that have shaken Washington and cities across the nation after the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died when a Minneapolis police officer held him down with a knee on the back of his neck. The protests have culminated in violence in many cities, including Washington, where demonstrators have clashed with police and set fires outside the White House.
Though Walker was awed by the boldness of Trump’s walk, Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde told CNN she was “outraged” by it.
“The president just used a Bible, the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and one of the churches of my diocese without permission as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our churches stand for,” she said.
Many commentators have similarly accused the president of attacking the protesters – 30 minutes before Washington’s curfew began – for the sake of a photo-op. And they were quick to heap scorn on Walker for his tweet.
“You’ve got a really messed up idea of what courage looks like,” said NBC News legal contributors Katie Phang said in reply to Walker’s tweet.
— Scott Walker (@ScottWalker) June 2, 2020
“The president showed a lot of force and he wanted to prove that you can crush people,” Williams said. “But I think the crowd that came out proved that’s not true.”
Willie Addy, a 28-year-old commercial real estate professional from Washington D.C., attended his first George Floyd protest Tuesday. He said he decided to come after witnessing what unfolded the previous night.
“Watching peaceful protesters being moved so the president could take a photo opp and a picture literally of a Bible backwards, it just made me outraged,” said Addy, who is black. “I had to be out here just for that.
“He didn’t even have the decency to even mention George Floyd or his family at all.”