Police violently attacked protesters in Philadelphia and Washington, DC, on Monday evening after President Donald Trump threatened to unleash the military on crowds demonstrating against systemic inequality and racism in the United States.
The evening's protests, sparked by the police killings of George Floyd in Minnesota and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, both unarmed, were ushered in by a harrowing display by Trump outside the White House. With the sounds of police firing tear gas on peaceful protesters and choppers overhead, the president said he would bring “thousands and thousands" of soldiers if governors didn't engage the National Guard to stop the demonstrations.
Recent nationwide protests have included looting and several deaths, and police in multiple cities have drawn new condemnation for their use of tear gas and rubber bullets on crowds, as well as their targeting of journalists. Cities around the country have instituted curfews.
In spite of the chaos of past days, groups of largely peaceful protesters continued to gather Monday evening.
A large crowd gathered outside the governor's mansion in St. Paul Monday evening, peacefully sitting together before going on a march.
Mayah Varnado, 21, of St. Paul told BuzzFeed News she has been coming out to protest police brutality since she was 15 with her sister and has been protesting almost every day this week.
“Cops will keep getting found not guilty...this is about coming together as a community and not letting up,” she said.
Protesters demanded that all four officers involved in Floyd's death face charges.
In New York, a crowd marked the beginning of Pride month outside the Stonewall Inn with a vigil. Speakers paid tribute to Marsha P. Johnson, whose activism kicked off the modern LGBTQ rights movement. The name of every black trans woman who had been killed in the last five years was also read aloud.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a curfew would go into effect at 11 p.m. The number of NYPD officers would also be doubled, from 4,000 to 8,000.
Later in the evening, in Brooklyn, demonstrators delivered speeches and marched.
“Stop paying for bills. Stop paying for transportation. They can’t lock all of us up," one activist said, calling for an economic boycott.
"Do not destroy where you’re from," he added. "Do not destroy your neighborhoods.”
As Trump prepared to deliver remarks outside the White House, police cleared a crowd of peaceful protesters using tear gas.
In brief remarks, Trump declared himself the "president of law and order" and said he would deploy the military against protesters.
The reason hundreds of peaceful protesters were tear-gassed was then revealed: The president wanted a photo op outside St. John's Episcopal Church, which had been damaged by a fire the night before.
The lingering gas in the air left reporters and staff walking with the president coughing. Once at the church, Trump held a Bible in the air and said, "Greatest country in the world. And we’re going to keep it safe."
The Right Rev. Mariann Budde, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, later condemned the publicity stunt.
"Tonight President just used a Bible and a church of my diocese as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our church stands for. To do so, he sanctioned the use of tear gas by police officers in riot gear to clear the church yard," Budde tweeted. "The President used our sacred text as a symbol of division."
Police continued to pursue protesters who were still out by nightfall. In one incident, a large group of police kettled protesters on Swann St., then fired pepper spray at them. One resident, Rahul Dubey, took dozens of people scrambling for shelter into safety in his home, ABC7 reported.
Protests took place across the LA area on Monday, including in Van Nuys, West Hollywood, and Hollywood.
In Van Nuys, crowds began peacefully.
Later in the day, however, things took a turn and an attempt at looting at a local business was met with pushback from the store's owners. A local TV news crew flagged down police officers — who then mistakenly put the owners into handcuffs.
In Hollywood, people marched in streets, and ultimately dispersed throughout neighborhoods. Local TV cameras captured some looting, and police also reportedly used less-than-lethal force on protesters.
Earlier in the day, in West Hollywood, a crowd of protesters joined with a police officer to take a knee.
Heading into another night of protests, the city of Philadelphia announced a 6 p.m. curfew.
Not long before the imposed curfew started, police officers shot tear gas at thousands of protesters who had shut down the Vine Street Expressway in both directions.
State police told NBC10 they shot the tear gas because some people pelted them with rocks and bottles, but people who shared videos and images of the incident on Twitter said they were peacefully protesting when police trapped the protesters and used tear gas on the entire crowd.
KYW Newsradio reported that police also dropped tear gas on people from a helicopter.
Later Monday, video showed a group of white men with baseball bats walking around the Fishtown neighborhood as police officers stand by.
"Don't put our cops at risk," a voice can be heard shouting at another group of people.
Earlier in another part of the city, a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer shared a video on Twitter of police officers taking a knee with protesters outside of City Hall. A KYW Newsradio reporter also shared a video of a large group of Philadelphia police officers and members of the National Guard taking a knee in front of protesters.
Earlier, in neighboring Montgomery County, a local politician stoked hatred by falsely calling Black Lives Matter a "left wing hate group."
As night fell in Dallas, police shot smoke canisters at a group of at least 100 protesters marching across a bridge.