Rev. Gini Gerbasi, an Episcopal priest who was forcibly removed from a church blasted President Donald Trump for staging a photo opportunity at her house of worship. She was wearing clerical garb when U.S. Park Police and National Guard troops fired tear gas on her and a group of peaceful protesters to clear the area for the president’s unannounced visit, Religion News reported Tuesday.
“They turned holy ground into a battleground,” Gerbasi said.
Gerbasi, the rector at another St. John’s Episcopal Church in Georgetown, had been handing out water, snacks and hand sanitizer to demonstrators protesting police brutality when officers began forcibly expelling them from Lafayette Park using chemical irritants.
“I was suddenly coughing from the tear gas,” she wrote on a Facebook post. “We heard those explosions and people would drop to the ground because you weren’t sure what it was.”
The priest said she was “deeply shaken” by Monday evening’s events, and she vowed to fight further injustice.
“That man turned it into a BATTLE GROUND first, and a cheap political stunt second,” Gerbasi wrote. “I am DEEPLY OFFENDED on behalf of every protestor, every Christian, the people of St. John’s, Lafayette square, every decent person there, and the BLM medics who stayed with just a single box of supplies and a backpack, even when I got too scared and had to leave.”
“I am ok,” she added. “But I am now a force to be reckoned with.”