WASHINGTON (CN) — Senate Democrats called Tuesday for formal condemnation of President Donald Trump, following his order to use chemical irritants and rubber bullets on Americans peaceably protesting the police killing of George Floyd.
“He doesn’t care about justice or law and order,” New York Senator Chuck Schumer said of the president. “He cares only about politics and his ego. … At a time when we need leadership to hold us together, he seems committed to tearing us apart
The resolution is expected to be introduced on the Senate floor later this afternoon, a day after protesters who converged on a small public park known as Lafayette Square, just beyond the northern gates of the White House, were physically dispersed by members of the National Guard, Secret Service and the U.S. Park Police.
Protesters say they were hit with rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades and tear gas — a chemical weapon banned in warfare.
Though U.S. Park Police said officers had only deployed smoke canisters, social media posts from those who were in the area say that the inhalants were more noxious than smoke.
Representatives for the Secret Service and National Guard did not return multiple requests for comment. The Trump campaign has denied that tear gas was used.
The dispersal occurred some 30 minutes before Mayor Muriel Bowser’s 7 p.m. curfew took effect, as President Trump was escorted on foot to take photographs outside the nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Protesters over the weekend had set a fire in the basement of the landmark, as riots and looting gripped the nation’s capital and other parts of the country. Trump took his photos holding a Bible — upside down — against the sound of the scattering protesters.
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker called the treatment of protesters abhorrent.
“Donald Trump, every member of this coequal body should condemn what this president did: Trampling upon the most sacred right of this nation to assemble, to petition, to protest,” Booker said. “What this president did was to make a mockery of our civil rights, I say ours, I was not there in that park, but every one of us should wish we were there.”
The impassioned lawmaker beat his chest with his fist as he spoke at the Capitol Hill press conference.
“If Donald Trump wants to gas someone, next time, start right here,” Booke said. “If he wants to shoot someone with rubber bullets, start right here. If he wants to trample people with horses, come to this body.”