Anti-government protesters and advocates launched a legal action against top officials for their response to civil unrest in the nation’s capitol.
Black Lives Matter (BLM) D.C. and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are suing President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr, and other federal representatives for allegedly using tear gas to force out Americans who were peacefully protesting against police brutality in downtown Washington.
Extreme protests have swept across the nation since the death in custody of Minnesotan George Floyd who local police allegedly handcuffed, kneed his throat, and then he became unresponsive and later die on May 25.
Lead plaintiff and BLM Core Organizer April Goggans alleges she was one of several demonstrators who the National Guard attacked with tear gas and other weapons at Lafayette Square on June 1, 2020. She believes the act violated her constitutional rights and was part of an “unlawful conspiracy” to violate civil rights.
“What happened to our members Monday evening, here in the nation’s capital, was an affront to all our rights,” she said in a statement. “The death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police officers has reignited the rage, pain, and deep sadness our community has suffered for generations. We will not be silenced by tear gas and rubber bullets. Now is our time to be heard.”
ACLU accused police of driving vans into groups of protesters, pepper spraying them, and firing rubber bullets at them.
“The president’s shameless, unconstitutional, unprovoked, and frankly criminal attack on protesters because he disagreed with their views shakes the foundation of our nation’s constitutional order,” ACLU D.C. Legal Director Scott Michelman said in the statement. “When the nation’s top law enforcement officer becomes complicit in the tactics of an autocrat, it chills protected speech for all of us.”
However, the Oval Office revealed protesters were not so peaceful when they allegedly set fire to nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church, which is also known as the “Church of the Presidents.”
“If the protesters were so peaceful, why did they light the church on fire the night before?” President Donald Trump said on Twitter. “People liked my walk to this historic place of worship … you got it wrong.”
The president also rejected allegations spread by mainstream media that authorities used tear gas to forcefully remove the protesters for a media photo opportunity with the president.
“Media falsely claimed violent riots were peaceful and that tear gas was used against rioters,” he said on Twitter. “Fake news is hurting our country so badly.”
The remarks came after NBC News claimed the protesters were peaceful until police and the National Guard tried to disperse the crowd.
“It was by far the most peaceful day of protest that we have had in D.C. since this started on Friday night,” MSNBC correspondent Garrett Haake said in a live broadcast. “We had mounted federal police coming down H Street from east to west, clearing people out of the street. In front of them, they were using flash bangs, tear gas, I lost my regular mask and had to replace it with my gas mask so that we could continue to report.”
The president maintained that since being sworn into office, he has done more for the African American population than past presidents.
“I have done more for black Americans, in fact, than any president in U.S. history, with the possible exception of another Republican president, the late, great, Abraham Lincoln,” he said on Twitter. “In 3 1/2 years, I have done much more for our black population than Joe Biden has done in 43 years. Actually, he set them back big time with his Crime Bill, which he doesn’t even remember.”