Remember when Donald Trump gave the green light to tear-gas the crowd gathered in front of the White House just so he could head on over to the church just opposite for a photo op with a bible? Surprise, surprise.. it turns out the people who got tear gassed are NOT happy about it. The protesters involved are now suing the president, Attorney General William Barr and a number of federal officials for what went down last week.
The official complaint, titled “BLACK LIVES MATTER D.C. V. TRUMP”, reads “This case is about the President and Attorney General of the United States ordering the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators who were speaking out against discriminatory police brutality targeted at Black people.”
The suit, which was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia (ACLU) on behalf of Black Lives Matter DC, along with a handful of individual protesters not only names Donald Trump but also Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of Defence Mark Esper, Army Gen. James McConville along with the heads of the Secret Service, U.S. Park Police and D.C. National Guard, as well as others.
What exactly happened?
Peaceful protestors were treated to tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bang shells in Lafayette Square last Monday, nearly a half-hour ahead of the city’s 7 p.m. curfew. This was to ensure that the president had a clear path to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church for his oh so important photo-op with a bible.
The suit argues that the assault violated the protesters First and Fourth Amendment rights on top of affirming that administration officials are engaged in a conspiracy to deny those rights. Understandably, the suit also urges a court order to prevent this from ever happening again, as well as demanding for restitution “for trauma and injuries sustained from chemicals and physical blows.”
The best part about all this is that both the White House and Trump administration deny that tear gas had been used. The U.S. Park Police however, used the term “Tear Gas” in a statement which was later rolled back and attributed as a mistake. It later admitted that pepper balls shot by officials was what caused tears.
Funnily enough, reporters who were on the ground have actual proof in the form of canisters of both natural and chemical tear gas agents which were collected at the scene.
Breaking: police canisters gathered by @wusa9 crews Monday night show federal police DID use artificial CS tear gas in addition to natural OC gas on #BlackLivesMatter #WashingtonDCProtests Asking @usparkpolicepio & @realDonaldTrump for response on statements claiming otherwise. pic.twitter.com/ouFi8NWC2s
— Nathan Baca (@NathanBacaTV) June 4, 2020
Given the fact that Trump urged governors to “dominate your city and your state” in a conference call on the morning of the attack on protestors, it’s hard to jump to Trump’s defence here. The US government now has two months to respond.