Late in the day on June 1, demonstrators gathered near the White House, on the edge of Lafayette Square, to protest police abuse following the death in custody of Minneapolis resident George Floyd. Similar protests had erupted across the country. Many were peaceful, but some included property destruction and clashes with police.
Earlier in the day, President Trump berated local and state leaders as “weak” for not doing more to quell unrest, and in a call with governors he pledged decisive action. “We’re going to do something that people haven’t seen before,” he said, “but you got to have total domination, and then you have to put them in jail.”
At about 6:30 p.m., just north of the White House, federal police in riot gear fired gas canisters and used grenades containing rubber pellets to scatter largely peaceful demonstrators. Their actions cleared the way for the president, surrounded by the nation’s top law enforcement and military leaders, to walk to the historic St. John’s Church for a three-minute photo op.
Drawing on footage captured from dozens of cameras, as well as police radio communications and other records, The Washington Post reconstructed the events of this latest remarkable hour of Trump’s presidency, including of the roles of the agencies involved and the tactics and weaponry they used.
Atthar Mirza, Nick Kirkpatrick, Alice Li contributed to this report.