Calling the protests over George Floyd’s death outside the White House "a total disgrace", US President Donald Trump said he was "dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement offices to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism assaults and the wanton destruction of property".
He said the government was putting everybody on warning that seven o'clock curfew will be strictly enforced. He vowed to arrest and prosecute all those "who threatened innocent life and property"."I want the organisers of this terror to be on notice that you will face severe criminal penalties and lengthy sentences in jail." At the end of his speech, Trump said he would go to "pay my respects to a very, very special place".
Surrounded by dozens of security personnel, he then walked out of the White House across Lafayette Square to St. John's Episcopal Church that was damaged in fire amid protests on Sunday. He was accompanied by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Ivanka Trump, his eldest daughter and senior adviser.
The church, just a few steps away, was built in 1815; every president since James Madison has attended services there.
Trump posed for the cameras with a Bible in his hand in front of the windows of the church, whose basement caught fire, although no major damage was done.
However, the photo op drew backlash on social media. Besides not mentioning Floyd or the prevailing agony over racism, Trump was called out for not just using the Bible to make a statement but also holding it upside down.
Nationwide protests have erupted since Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old man, died in Minneapolis on May 22 after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, held him down with a knee on his neck though he repeatedly pleaded, "I can't breathe", and "please, I can't breathe". All four police officers involved in the incident have been fired, and Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.