Utah National Guard soldiers stand on a police line as demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Thursday, June 4, 2020, near the White House in Washington. (Photo: AP)
The American Civil Liberties Union and others have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, alleging officials violated the civil rights of protesters who were forcefully removed from a park near the White House by police using chemical agents before President Donald Trump walked to a nearby church to take a photo.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court in Washington. It argues that Trump, Attorney General William Barr and other officials “unlawfully conspired to violate” the protesters’ rights when clearing Lafayette Park on Monday.
Shortly before 6:30 p.m. on Monday, law enforcement officers began aggressively forcing back the peaceful protesters, firing smoke bombs and pepper balls into the crowd to disperse them from the park.
The ACLU called it a “coordinated and unprovoked charge into the crowd of demonstrators.”
Barr said Thursday that he ordered the protesters to be dispersed because officials were supposed to extend a security perimeter around the White House earlier in the day. He said he arrived there later in the afternoon and discovered it hadn’t been done.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the group Black Lives Matter D.C., and individual protesters who were in Lafayette Park on Monday evening.