The public deserves a full, unredacted account of federal officials’ role in Trump’s violent removal of racial justice protesters from Lafayette Square last year, following the release of a new Interior OIG report. On June 1, 2020, Trump and then-Attorney General Bill Barr faced major condemnation for the deployment of Secret Service and United States Park Police to clear protestors from Lafayette Square, which was on the route to St. John’s Episcopal Church where Trump held a propaganda photo-op.
The Interior OIG report indicates that the Park Police planned to clear Lafayette Square so contractors could install new fencing and only learned hours before of Trump’s plans to walk through the park. The report warns that it cannot provide a full accounting of the day since multiple agencies were involved in the clearing, leaving questions around Bill Barr’s role in ordering the removal of protestors that included rubber bullets, gas, and force. Of key public interest is the redaction in the report of names of federal officials from unidentified agencies whose proposals to move up the park clearing upon hearing about Trump’s walk were reportedly rejected by the Park Police.
CREW has requested the unredacted version of the Lafayette Square Interior OIG report.
Along with the unredacted report, CREW is still suing DHS and Interior for records on the removal, especially on whether Bill Barr had any role in commanding Secret Service agents to violently clear the park. The public needs to know the full story of various federal agencies’ role in the violent removal of protestors from Lafayette Square.