(RNS) — Posing for the cameras, President Donald Trump held a Bible at St. John’s Church near the White House on Monday evening after law enforcement cleared protesters out of the area with tear gas before his visit.

The protesters appeared to be acting peacefully before they were dispersed by force.

Tear gas canisters could be heard exploding as Trump spoke in the Rose Garden. He then walked over to the 200-year-old church that over the weekend was set on fire as demonstrators clashed with police.

Trump is urging the nation’s governors to get tougher with violent protesters and to deploy the National Guard.

He said in the Rose Garden that he is an ally of peaceful protesters, but he stressed that “I am your

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