Judge Dismisses Claims That the Trump Admin Cleared Lafayette Square for a Photo-Op
A federal judge dismissed lawsuits from Black Lives Matter and the Washington, D.C., chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, alleging the Trump administration authorized an attack on protesters in Lafayette Square in June 2020.
Both groups claimed the administration had ordered law enforcement officers to vacate the space in order to arrange a photo op of then-President Trump in front of St. John's Church.
US District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich dismissed the allegations, saying that the plaintiffs had not provided sufficient evidence. Friedrich also wrote that then Attorney General William Barr and then Chief of Park Police, Gregory T. Monahan, were immune to civil lawsuits over their actions during the incident.
"These allegations, taken as true, do not show sufficient 'events, conversations or documents to indicate an agreement or meeting of the defendants to violate the rights of the [plaintiffs] by virtue of their belonging to a protected class," "wrote Friedrich.
Federal officials have ordered law enforcement agencies to vacate Lafayette Square in order to install fences, the Home Office's inspector general concluded in a report released earlier this month. Park police gave orders to vacate the square hours before officials realized Trump was about to arrive.
"The evidence we reviewed showed that (park police) evacuated the park so a contractor wrote in the report in response to the destruction of federal property and violation of officials at 30th Greenblatt.
"In addition, the evidence revealed that relevant (park police) officers had made these decisions and started implementing the operational plan several hours before they knew of a possible visit by the president to the park later that day," Greenblatt added .
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