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.”
Gerbasi — who is the Rector of St. John’s Church in Georgetown, but was at St. John’s near the White House on Tuesday — wrote that police started clearing the streets “Around 6:15 or 6:30.”
“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.”