Protesters sue Trump over tear-gassing at Lafayette Park

The lawsuit points out that the president used 'violent rhetoric,' leading up to the incident

President Donald Trump walks past police in Lafayette Park after he visited outside St. John’s Church across from the White House Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Part of the church was set on fire during protests on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Black Lives Matter D.C. filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr, and the U.S. Park Police for violating their civil rights.

The suit was filed by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs and also names the Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and James Murray, the director of the U.S. Secret Service.

READ MORE: Donald Trump to hold next rally on Juneteenth in Tulsa

The plaintiffs of the suit include the Black Lives Matter D.C. organization and a number of local D.C. residents including a nine-year-old.

The suit alleges that the rights of the protesters were violated when Lafayette Square was cleared more than 30 minutes prior to the 7 p.m. curfew using tear gas, pepper spray capsules, rubber bullets, flash bombs.

“It is precisely such domination – in the form of centuries of white supremacy and subjugation of Black lives — that was the core focus of the peaceful demonstration in Lafayette Square,” the lawsuit connected the action historic violence against African Americans and their supporters.

Lafayette Square was cleared so that President Trump could walk to nearby St. John’s Church where he posed with a Bible.

President Trump theGrio.com

President Donald Trump holds a Bible as he visits outside St. John’s Church across Lafayette Park from the White House Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Part of the church was set on fire during protests on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The president also addressed the nation from the Rose Garden where he said that he was taking “swift and decisive action” and dispatching “thousands and thousands” of military personnel and law enforcement.

After the area was cleared, helicopters flew close to the ground blowing debris in the faces of protesters who remained on the street. At one point, dozens of protesters took refuge in a house where they stayed until the curfew was lifted in the morning.

The lawsuit points out that the president used “violent rhetoric,” leading up to the incident and that he told governors that “in Washington, we’re going to do something people haven’t seen before.”

READ MORE: White House press secretary claims Juneteenth is a ‘meaningful day’ to Trump

The suit says that the incident kept Black Lives Matter D.C. from “exercising their rights to demonstrate” by “creating fear.”

The day after the incident, President Trump tweeted, “Washington, D.C., was the safest place on earth last night!”

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s new podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!

Share: