Several protesters and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the federal use of force to disperse a peaceful protest in Washington, DC, ahead of President Donald Trump‘s photo-op at a local church.
What We Know:
- The lawsuit, which names Trump and Attorney General William Barr in their official capacities, as well as other federal officials, as defendants, says the administration-directed police had “no legitimate basis to destroy the peaceable gathering” of people protesting the death of George Floyd.
- “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,” reads the lawsuit.
- Trump’s walk across Lafayette Square on Monday evening to St. John’s Episcopal Church, that took place after authorities forcibly pushed out peaceful protesters, has drawn criticism from lawmakers and public figures, including former Defense Secretary James Mattis.
- The incident on Lafayette Square was described as an attack against protesters, according to Mayor Muriel Bowser. Bowser’s attorney general, Karl Racine, has now launched an investigation into the matter.
- “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,” Scott Michelman, legal director of the ACLU of the District of Columbia, told CNN.
- In letters sent Thursday night to more than a dozen states that either sent or may have been asked to send troops, Racine asked state leaders to tell the city by Saturday who asked for the troops to go to Washington, what legal authority they had to do so and whom the troops reported to once they arrived.
The states’ answers will help Racine’s office “fully evaluate whether the federal government’s conduct was proper,” the letters read. Questions were also sent to Barr, Esper and the White House, in regards to why the district government failed to obtain any information prior to troops moving in and the overall legality of the event.