- The Archbishop of Washington, Wilton D Gregory, called the visit a misuse, and a manipulation of the Saint Paul II National Shrine.
- Mariann Budde, the diocesan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, also condemned the president's actions.
- The archbishops of York and Canterbury said the unrest revealed "ongoing crimes of white supremacy."
The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, DC in the United States has strongly criticized the actions of President Donald Trump, accusing hm of using religion as a shield to crack down on continuing civil unrest in the country. After taking a picture holding a Bible in front St. John’s Episcopal Church the day before, Trump visited the Saint John Paul II National Shrine on Tuesday.
The Archbishop of Washington, Wilton D Gregory, called the visit a misuse, and a manipulation of the Saint Paul II National Shrine. He also called the president’s actions “baffling and reprehensible.”
Meanwhile, African-American film director Spike Lee said President Trump’s response to George Floyd’s death showed that he was a “gangster” who was “trying to be a dictator.” Lee, who raised issues of racial injustice in the United States in his films, said citizens in the United States were angry because a system was formed to make them fail.
On the other hand, broadcasters, celebrities, and music streaming services turned off and changed their services on Tuesday, as a form of solidarity with the protest against the murder of George Floyd. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden criticized his rival, President Trump, who he said was using the crisis to attract supporters.
Meanwhile, the Las Vegas sheriff said that an officer was shot dead after police tried to disperse the crowd on Tuesday, and four officers were injured on Monday.
What do the Religious Leaders Say?
In a statement ahead of Trump’s visit to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Archbishop Gregory said it violated church principles, adding that Catholics should defend the rights of all people.
The Archbishop also condemned the attempt to dissolve the demonstration outside the White House the day before, for Trump to visit St. John’s Episcopal Church, where he held a Bible in front of the media that was covering it. Said Gregory, the first African-American to lead the Archdiocese:
“I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people, even those with whom we might disagree.”
The Saint John Paul II National Shrine is managed by the Knights of Columbus, an organization consisting of all-male Catholics, who lobby for conservative political interests. Mariann Budde, the diocesan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, also condemned the president’s actions. Meanwhile, in Britain, the archbishops of York and Canterbury said the unrest revealed “ongoing crimes of white supremacy.”
The demonstration began when video footage showed Floyd was being arrested and several police officers continued to crush his neck, even though he said he couldn’t breathe, on May 25. One of the officers, Derek Chauvin, is charged with third-degree murder, and will be tried next week.
While three other policemen have been fired, they have not been charged with a crime. On Monday, Trump called on the state and local governments to mobilize the National Guard to stop ensuing riots. He said if they did not “take the necessary action,” he would mobilize the military and “solve the problem quickly.”
What is Behind these Riots?
The Floyd case has reignited deep anger over police killings of American blacks and racism. This police brutality has driven the Black Lives Matter movement in recent years. Previously, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York, were also victims of police brutality.
In 2014, Garner was strangled by the police for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes. He was heard saying, “I can’t breathe,” when the police detained him. Garner’s words, also mentioned by Floyd at the last moment of his life, became chants shouted by supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The demonstration was not only to express the treatment of Floyd but also condemned the police atrocities for their treatment of blacks in America.