WASHINGTON, DC -- Over 300 arrests were made Monday evening after demonstrations intensified a the DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and Chief of Police Peter Newsham said in a press conference this morning.
Local DC leaders are fuming after federal police used tear gas and flash bangs well before curfew to clear out peaceful protestors from Lafayette Park. It happened just before President Trump walked across the lawn to take pictures and say a few words next to the damaged St. John's Episcopal Church.
Protest leader Arianna Evans thought it was excessive and had to ask police where they could stand once forced up the street. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser agreed, claiming police used tear gas without being provoked. Last night, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser called the events "shameful."
The Metropolitan Police Department says more than 300 people have been arrested and 80 have been charged with felony rioting in connection with demonstrations that played out between Sunday and Monday in the District.
Officials say those arrested ranged in age from a 13-year-old to those in their 40's adding that many of the suspects were from the District, Virginia, and Maryland. Investigators say they are trying to arrest additional suspects by using surveillance video footage to help identify others involved in rioting acts.
Trump is facing widespread criticism after holding up a Bible for a photo-op outside a church near the White House yesterday. Police deployed tear gas and rubber bullets to break up a peaceful protest so Trump could walk to the church.
The Episcopal Bishop of the Washington Diocese is blasting President Trump for his visit to a church near the White House. Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde told CNN Trump used a church in her diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for what she called "a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our churches stand for."
Nearby Lafayette Park was apparently cleared so the president could walk through and pose for a photo holding a Bible outside St. John's Episcopal Church.
The people gathered in Lafayette Park were peacefully protesting the Memorial Day death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed.