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Trump, Instagram Influencers Use Protests Against Police Brutality As Photo Ops

Trump, Instagram Influencers Use Protests Against Police Brutality As Photo Ops

Some Americans are taking to the streets to protest police brutality or board up broken windows. Some are flocking to the same streets because they make appealing Instagram backdrops.

Trump's Photo Op 

On Monday, President Donald Trump used D.C. police to disperse peaceful protestors with tear gas and flash grenades and clear a path for the president to walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church. There, Trump picked up a Bible and turned to the cameras to denounce civil unrest. 

“He did not pray,” Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, told the New York Times. “He did not mention George Floyd, he did not mention the agony of people who have been subjected to this kind of horrific expression of racism and white supremacy for hundreds of years.”

“I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop,” Budde added in an interview with the Washington Post.

That’s a surprising oversight because, according to New York Times sources, the whole stunt was a carefully orchestrated photo op. Presidential adviser Hope Hicks helped coordinate the plan after rioters set a brief fire to St. John’s.

The Backdrop

The backdrop was ready-made with graffiti and repair boards, and Trump set the scene with a prop Bible hoisted high for the snapshot and otherwise aimlessly waved around.

“Has the Bible ever been used in a more disingenuous and exploitative way?” the Rev. Edward Beck, a Catholic priest, tweeted. The stunt drew criticism from religious leaders outside the Christian faith too. 

"Seeing President Trump stand in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church while holding a Bible in response to calls for racial justice — right after using military force to clear peaceful protesters out of the area — is one of the most flagrant misuses of religion I have ever seen,” Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, said in a statement. “This only underscores the president's complete lack of compassion for Black Americans and the lethal consequences of racism."

Influencer Opportunities

Trump isn’t the only one being called out for irreverent use of social struggle for personal gain. Washington Examiner intern Fiona Moriarty-McLaughlin was caught on camera pretending to help board up smashed shop windows for her Instagram.

Influencers have also been found posing in front of damaged buildings.


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