House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer criticized the use of tear gas on peaceful protesters outside of the White House in a joint statement Monday.
The two top Democrats in Congress said the forced removal of the protesters from outside Lafayette Park “dishonors every value that faith teaches us.”
“At a time when our country cries out for unification, this President is ripping it apart,” Pelosi and Schumer said. “Tear-gassing peaceful protestors without provocation just so that the President could pose for photos outside a church dishonors every value that faith teaches us.”
Pelosi and Schumer urged The President, law enforcement, and “all entrusted with the responsibility to respect the dignity and rights of all Americans.”
“Together, we must insist on the truth that America must do much more to live up to its promise: the promise of liberty and justice for all, which so many have sacrificed for – from Dr. King to John Lewis to peaceful protestors on the streets today,” the statement reads.
“At this challenging time, our nation needs real leadership. The President’s continued fanning of the flames of discord, bigotry and violence is cowardly, weak and dangerous.”
The statement was made after law enforcement officers fired tear gas in front of the White House to clear the area of protesters for the president to visit the nearby St. John’s Church, on foot for a photo opportunity. The president posed for photos with a Bible in front of the church, which had been set on fire during Sunday’s demonstrations.
Protests have wracked the country after George Floyd died while being detained by police in Minneapolis last week.
Derek Chauvin is shown kneeling on Floyd’s neck in cellphone footage of his arrest, as Floyd says he can’t breathe and becomes unresponsive. Chauvin was fired and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
The other three officers involved in Floyd’s arrest were fired but have not been charged as of Monday night.