Law & the Courts

Judge Dismisses Claims That the Trump Admin Cleared Lafayette Square for a Photo-Op

Then-President Donald Trump walks between lines of riot police in Lafayette Park at the White House in Washington, D.C., June 1, 2020. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

A federal judge dismissed lawsuits by Black Lives Matter and the Washington, D.C., chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union claiming that the Trump administration authorized an attack on demonstrators at Lafayette Square in June 2020.

Both groups alleged that the administration ordered law-enforcement officers to clear the square in order to arrange for a photo-op by then-president Trump in front of St. John’s Church.

U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich dismissed the allegations, writing in her opinion that the plaintiffs had not produced sufficient proof. Friedrich also wrote that then-attorney general William Barr and then-acting Park Police chief Gregory T. Monahan are immune from civil suits regarding their actions during the incident.

“These allegations, taken as true, do not show sufficient ‘events, conversations, or documents indicating an agreement or meeting of the minds’ amongst the defendants to violate [plaintiffs’] rights based on [their] membership in a protected class,’” Friedrich wrote.

Federal officials ordered law enforcement to clear Lafayette Square in order to install fencing, the Inspector General for the Department of the Interior concluded in a report released earlier this month. Park Police gave the order to clear the square hours before officials realized Trump would be arriving.

“The evidence we reviewed showed that the (Park Police) cleared the park to allow a contractor to safely install anti-scale fencing in response to destruction of Federal property and injury to officers that occurred on May 30 and May 31,” Inspector General Mark Greenblatt wrote in the report.

“Moreover, the evidence established that relevant (Park Police) officials had made those decisions and had begun implementing the operational plan several hours before they knew of a potential presidential visit to the park, which occurred later that day,” Greenblatt added.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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