Nancy Pelosi appeared before reporters at the Capitol to criticize President Donald Trump's photo-op in front of the St. John's Church, Lafayette Square. A reserved House Speaker read from Ecclesiastes and quoted leaders from the past in order to call for calm and unity, as video from ABC News posted on their Twitter shows.
Pelosi opened her remarks saying that as she watched Trump pose with the Bible on Monday, she thought of several passages that he could have read from to address the nation. She chose passages from Ecclesiastes referencing "a time to heal" as an example of what he could have said.
The California Democrat also quoted former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama, who spoke out to all Americans after the Rodney King beating and the murder of Eric Garner, respectively.
"It is incumbent upon all of us as Americans — regardless of race, religion, region, faith — that we recognize that this is an American problem, and not just a black problem or a brown problem or a Native American problem," Pelosi quoted Obama as saying. "This is an American problem."
Pelosi added that it's the president's job to unite Americans.She also addressed the photo op Trump posed for on Monday in front of the historic Washington D.C. church. Prior to emerging from the White House and walking to the house of worship, peaceful protesters were dispersed by the National Guard and police officers using what some people have called excessive force.
Law enforcement deployed tear gas and flash grenades to clear the way so the president could walk to the location and pose with a Bible. Reportedly, the president believed he needed to show his face to the public after being called out for retreating to a bunker as protesters demonstrated in front of the White House.
The photo event resulted in harsh criticism from some who said the use of force was a violation of the rights of those gathered in the public space to demonstrate. Trump also faced backlash because, as detractors argue, he didn't offer any prayers or words on the unrest gripping the nation, but instead returned to the White House shortly after posing for the cameras.
"Peaceful demonstrators... in front of the White House were beaten — some people came out and beat them so they could clear the area so the president could come out and go forward. What is that?" she asked. "That has no place, and it's time for us to do away with that, a time to heal."
Pelosi and other leaders in Congress have called for reform to the criminal justice system and they have promised to bring forth legislation to address the issues of police brutality and inequality, which have come to the forefront after George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed while in police custody last week.