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‘This can’t be happening’: An oral history of 48 surreal, violent, biblical minutes in Washington

By Dan ZakMonica HesseBen TerrisMaura Judkis and Travis M. Andrews June 2, 2020 at 11:06 p.m. EDT

The Washington Post

On Monday evening, over the course of 48 minutes, Donald Trump put on a show that may have changed America, yet again. It involved an overture to the nation, a physical attack on Americans and a Bible. It began suddenly, in the Rose Garden, with a statement about “law and order” and “dangerous thugs.” The president promised justice for the family of George Floyd, whose death in the custody of Minneapolis police last week triggered nationwide protests, looting and violence, and a roiling debate about who we are and what we hope to become.

As the president declared that he was an “ally” of peaceful protesters, those peaceful protesters were violently dispersed to make way for his walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church, across Lafayette Square. “Our greatest days lie ahead,” Trump said. What happened during those 48 minutes convinced some people that he is right, and others that he is very wrong.

Eventually there will be a detailed accounting of what actually happened, and how, and why. For now, in the midst of the confusion, here is a first draft of history in miniature, in minutes — an oral history of 6:30 to 7:18 p.m. on June 1, 2020.

Bill Fuller

Bill Fuller

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