Civil Rights Groups Respond to Today’s Interior Department Report on Attack of Demonstrators at Lafayette Square Before Trump Photo Op

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 9, 2021
CONTACT: gregg_kelley@washlaw.org

In response to today’s report issued by the Department of the Interior about the attack on civil rights demonstrators at Lafayette Square Park on June 1, 2020, the following statement can be attributed to Scott Michelman, Legal Director, ACLU of the District of Columbia:

“The government has given various conflicting explanations for the shocking attack on civil rights demonstrators at Lafayette Square on June 1, 2020. For instance, the day after the attack, the Justice Department said Attorney General Barr ordered it; now the Department of the Interior says he didn’t. The federal officials’ briefs in our ongoing lawsuit about the attack also offer inconsistent narratives. These shifting explanations cannot distract from the fundamental problem: The force used against the demonstrators at Lafayette Square was grossly excessive in relation to any conceivably legitimate purpose. Given the severity and coordinated nature of the attack, it cannot be chalked up, as the Interior Department now suggests, to confusion or miscommunications. The assault on the civil rights protesters was a clear violation of the Constitution, and the federal officials who ordered it and perpetrated it must be held accountable.”

Together with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the law firm of Arnold & Porter, the ACLU of the District of Columbia represents Black Lives Matter-DC and eight individual demonstrators (including two minors), in a lawsuit on behalf of a class of demonstrators seeking accountability for the attacks and compensation for their injuries. A federal court heard argument on May 28 on the defendants’ motions to dismiss the case. A decision remains pending.

More information about the lawsuit, Black Lives Matter D.C. V. Trump, can be found here.


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