Virginia county pulls officers from DC after Trump photo-op

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — A county in northern Virginia pulled its officers out of the District of Columbia Monday night after they played a supporting role in clearing protesters from a park outside the White House so the president could walk to a church for a photo opportunity.

Arlington officers joined a team of federal law enforcers using chemical agents and flash bangs to forcibly remove a large group of peaceful protesters from Lafayette Park.

That cleared a path for President Donald Trump, who had just issued a statement from the Rose Garden vowing to crack down on protesters, to walk from the White House over to St. John’s Church, which had been damaged in earlier protests. Trump then posed with a Bible for a few minutes.

Members of northern Virginia’s congressional delegation were also critical of the tactics. Democrat Gerry Connolly wrote a letter to the Secret Service on Tuesday asking for documents to explain their decision-making process. And Democrat Don Beyer, whose district includes Arlington County, called Trump’s response to the protesters “naked authoritarianism.”

“Unleashing state violence against peaceful American demonstrators and journalists to create a photo op is a violation of the President’s oath to defend the Constitution and a betrayal of everything this country stands for,” Beyer said.

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