CREW is suing the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Interior following their failure to turn over documents on then-President Trump and then-Attorney General Bill Barr’s deployment of the Secret Service and Park Police on peaceful protesters for racial justice this past summer to clear the path for Trump’s propaganda photoshoot at St. John’s Church.
On May 25, 2020, a white policeman killed George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by kneeling on his neck. This sparked racial justice protests with President Trump escalating tensions by tweeting threats to shoot protestors with words like “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” On June 1, 2020 several thousand peaceful protesters marched to Lafayette Square, situated directly across the White House, demanding racial justice. In an apparent effort to show his control of the situation, Trump planned to visit St. John’s Episcopal Church, located on Lafayette Square, immediately following an inflammatory address to the nation. Attorney General Barr visited the scene at Lafayette Square, and before Trump’s address, members of the National Guard began charging down the street, pushing the protestors out of Lafayette Square and firing flash-bang shells, gas, and rubber bullets into the crowd. Law enforcement authorities on the scene included the Secret Service, the U.S. Park Police, and the National Guard.
Adding insult to injury, the White House quickly turned footage of Trump’s visit to the church, for which police had cleared the square of protestors, into what has been described as both a propaganda video and a campaign ad.
CREW previously requested records from the agencies and has not received a response. The American people deserve answers on what procedures and protocols led to the federal government using rubber bullets, gas, and force to remove protesters for the sake of clearing a path for the president’s propaganda photo shoot.
February 24, 2021