On the Removal of Peaceful Protesters near St John’s Episcopal Church (D.C.)

This past week and a half, our country has witnessed protests in every state in our union, as people are fighting against social injustice and police brutality. During one such peaceful protest, the President of the United States attempted to display a show of power by deploying officers from the military, Secret Service and local authorities. They were ordered to forcefully remove the peaceful protesters near the White House, clearing his path to St John’s Episcopal Church. The President then used the church as his backdrop for a photo-op of him holding a Bible.

The Episcopal Bishop of Washington D. C., Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde was left outraged. Budde, spoke with CNN after the photo was taken and exclaimed, “Let me be clear, 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.”

In a climate where the media has framed the views of so many Americans, images and footage of officers in protective gear using gas and flash charges to forcibly remove a large crowd of peaceful demonstrators from an area of Lafayette park between the White House and the church was shown live. This image should resonate throughout all of America and the world. Minutes prior to this encounter, the president proclaimed to support all peaceful protests.

The pain in Budde’s heart can be seen through this quote, “(Trump) sanctioned the use of tear gas by police officers in riot gear to clear the churchyard.” She then went on to say, “I am outraged. The president did not pray when he came to St. John’s, nor…did he acknowledge the agony of our country right now.”

The President was not alone for his staged photo shoot, he was surrounded by members of his administration. He once again failed to make a statement for people of color and uses religion as a tool instead of a bridge. People want change, are yearning for change and the president is more concerned with how he is perceived by the media.

As a chaplain leader and UAW members, we need to stand together in solidarity and say this should not go unnoticed and should be criticized.

In His presence,

Robert Gholston Jr.
UAW Region 1 Chaplaincy Council Chair