Former White House employees were accused of conspiring to remove nonviolent protestors from Washington D.C.’s Lafayette Square by force last year so that then-President Donald Trump could pose for a picture holding a Bible at a local church.
The lawsuit stems from a mostly peaceful gathering of Black Lives Matter protestors in the square outside the White House on June 1, 2020, when U.S. Park Police and National Guard troops used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse them.
Politico reported: “A federal judge has dismissed the bulk of a series of lawsuits against the federal government over the use of force to drive Black Lives Matter protesters out of Lafayette Park last year, but will allow protesters to continue to seek damages from Washington, D.C. and Arlington County, Va. over the actions of their police forces.” Adding, “U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected demonstrators’ claims for damages against former officials such as President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, as well as some current federal officials.”
BREAKING: Today, a federal judge dismissed our lawsuit that held federal officers accountable for attacking Lafayette Square Park protestors with tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash bombs on June 1, 2020.
— ACLU of the District of Columbia (@ACLU_DC) June 21, 2021
On a side note, Washington Post said, “The plaintiffs asserted the government used unnecessary force to enable a photo op of President Donald Trump holding a Bible outside of the historical St. John’s Church, “… But U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of Washington called allegations that federal officials conspired to make way for the photo too speculative.”
An Inspector General’s report on the Lafayette Park incident found that it was not cleared of protesters so that the president could take a “photo-op.”
“When federal police officers violently cleared protesters from the city’s Lafayette Park in June 2020, they did it so a contractor could install fencing—not to let President Donald Trump hold a photo opportunity at a nearby church, an investigation by the Interior Department’s inspector general has found,” said NBC.
“That finding, published Wednesday, is likely to surprise many critics of Trump, who have long asserted that the president or his attorney general ordered the operation to pave the way for an act of political theater,” the report continued. “That is also the central allegation of a federal lawsuit by Black Lives Matter against the Justice Department.”
“The report found no evidence of that, but did find that Attorney General William Barr urged officials to speed up the clearing process once Trump had decided to walk through the area that evening,” the report added.
Donald Trump reacted to the Department of the Interior Inspector General’s findings in a statement.
“Thank you to the Department of the Interior Inspector General for Completely and Totally exonerating me in the clearing of Lafayette Park!” Trump wrote.
“As we have said all along, and it was backed up in today’s highly detailed and professionally written report, our fine Park Police made the decision to clear the park to allow a contractor to safely install antiscale fencing to protect from Antifa rioters, radical BLM protestors, and other violent demonstrators who are causing chaos and death to our cities,” Trump said, “In this instance, they tried burning down the church the day before the clearing.”
“Fortunately, we were there to stop the fire from spreading beyond the basement—and it was a great honor and privilege to do so,” he added. “Again, thank you to the Inspector General!”
The clearance of Lafayette Park was dubbed a “scandal” by Rachel Maddow, the New York Times, NBC, and others in June of 2020. About Donald Trump holding up a Bible in front of a church, NBC termed it “among the most ridiculous presidential photo-ops anyone has ever seen, at least in this country.”
“When the history of the Trump presidency is written, the clash at Lafayette Square may be remembered as one of its defining moments,” according to the New York Times. If so, one of the “defining moments” of the Trump presidency was one of “complete and total exoneration.”