Feds claim cops cleared protesters outside White House for fence installation, not Trump Bible photo-op

The Interior Department’s watchdog on Tuesday claimed in a new report that police violently cleared protestors from a park outside the White House last June in order to “allow a contractor” to install new security fencing, and not to enable then-President Donald Trump to stage a widely criticized photo op while wielding a Bible.

But the watchdog’s report also faulted the U.S. Park Police for failing to give dispersal warnings to the racial justice protestors that were loud enough for all of them to hear before the clearing of Lafayette Park began on June 1, 2020, with cops using rubber bullets and tear gas to accomplish the task.

And the report by the Interior Department’s inspector general specifically did not address claims of excessive force used against individual protestors and reporters by police, saying “those are the subject of separate inquiries as well as ongoing lawsuits.”

The protests began around Lafayette Park on May 29, 2020, on the heels of the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by Minneapolis police.

Police began sweeping the park of protestors at 6:23 p.m. on June 1, 2020, and completed the operation by 6:50 p.m., the inspector general’s report noted.

Eleven minutes later, the report said, Trump “walked from the White House through Lafayette Park to St. John’s Church,” which is nearby.

The Republican president, who had been critical of the protests that swept the nation on the heels of Floyd’s murder, then held aloft a Bible in his hand so that television and still cameras could capture the image.

Trump was accompanied on his way through the park by then-Attorney General William Barr, then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper and U.S. Army General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was dressed in a camouflage combat uniform, not his dress uniform.

The report said that at 7:30 p.m., a contractor began assembling and installing the new fence and completed the work within about five hours.

“The evidence we reviewed showed that the USPP cleared the park to allow a contractor to safely install antiscale fencing in response to the destruction of Federal property and injury to officers that occurred on May 30 and May 31,” wrote Inspector Genera; Mark Lee Greenblatt in a statement released with the report.

“Moreover, the evidence established that relevant USPP 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 wrote.

“As such, we determined that the evidence did not support a finding that the USPP cleared the park on June 1, 2020, so that then President Trump could enter the park.”

Leave a Reply