Clergy at DC Church Hit with Teargas as Trump Prepared to Visit

Sunday night was not easy to stomach for many Americans.  We saw mass protests outside of the White House end in tear gas and flash bangs, with peaceful protesters being driven away from St. John’s Episcopal Church in a hurry.

The reason for the haste soon become clear; President Trump was heading across the street to visit the church, and there was no way for him to make that walk with the crowds in their current position.

The move came without any warning, and, as such, many of the St. John’s clergy were caught in the melee. 

A reverend at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington D.C. Monday claimed that church clergy were tear gassed in order to clear the area for President Donald Trump’s “cheap political stunt” and “photo opportunity” in a furious post.

After delivering a speech in the Rose Garden, the president made his way through Lafayette Square, which had been cleared of protestors by police, to stand outside of the church that had been set on fire by rioters on Sunday.

“Friends, I am ok, but I am, frankly shaken,” wrote Rev. Gini Gerbasi in a post on Facebook after the incident Monday. “I was at St. John’s, Lafayette Square most of the afternoon, with fellow clergy and laypeople – and clergy from some other denominations too. We were passing out water and snacks, and helping the patio area at St. John’s, Lafayette square to be a place of respite and peace. All was well – with a few little tense moments – until about 6:15 or so.”

That’s when things took a turn.

“They started using tear gas and folks were running at us for eyewashes or water or wet paper towels. At this point, Julia, one of our seminarians for next year (who is a trauma nurse) and I looked at each other in disbelief,” she continued, adding, “I was coughing, her eyes were watering, and we were trying to help people as the police – in full riot gear – drove people toward us.”

Gerbasi said, “We were literally DRIVEN OFF of the St. John’s, Lafayette Square patio with tear gas and concussion grenades and police in full riot gear. We were pushed back 20 feet, and then eventually – with SO MANY concussion grenades – back to K street. By the time I got back to my car, around 7, I was getting texts from people saying that Trump was outside of St. John’s, Lafayette Square.”

St. John’s had been the scene of an attempted arson one night earlier, after violent extremists used the peaceful protests as cover to carry out their chaos, hoping to incite a new Civil War.