Government report clears Trump: Park Police did not clear Lafayette Square protesters for Trump photo-op

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WASHINGTON, DC – A government report on a review of the controversial clearing of Lafayette Park on June 1, 2020, destroyed the mainstream media’s claim that peaceful protesters were forcibly removed by U.S. Park Police so that then-President Donald Trump could hold a photo-op at a nearby church.

In a remarkable about-face by The Washington Post, who was praised for a video timeline report last year claiming Trump ordered the protesters removed for the photo-op, the newspaper wrote:

“When the U.S. Park Police led law enforcement officers into a crowd of mostly peaceful protesters outside Lafayette Square on June 1, 2020, including officers equipped with chemical irritants and officers on horseback…

“They did so as part of a plan made days earlier to build a fence around the park to protect officers, not to facilitate the visit minutes later by President Donald Trump to a nearby church, an inspector general’s report released Wednesday concluded.”

The report, titled “Review of U.S. Park Police Actions at Lafayette Park” was issued Tuesday by the Officer of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of the Interior. The report discussed the events leading up to the incident, and the reason for actions taken by law enforcement.

Protests began in and around Lafayette Park on May 29, 2020, and U.S. Secret Service established a unified command to coordinate the law enforcement response to protests, according to the report.

From May 30 to 31, at least 49 USPP officers were injured while policing the protests, and Federal and private property was vandalized.

On June 1, the Secret Service obtained antiscale fencing to create a more secure perimeter around the park. The fencing had to be installed, which meant protesters had to be cleared from the area, the report found.

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LET UnityU.S. Park Police planned to execute the removal of the protesters once all equipment for the fencing was on site, and sufficient law enforcement was on scene. Six other law enforcement agencies assisted the USPP and the Secret Service in the operation to clear and secure areas near the park, including the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department

The report indicated that the crowd was dispersed, and the operation was completed at 6:50 p.m. The operation took 27 minutes.

Only after the operation had completed, at 7:01 p.m., did President Trump walk from the White House through Lafayette Park to St. John’s Church.

The review found the action was necessary and justified:

“We found that the USPP had the authority and discretion to clear Lafayette Park and the surrounding areas on June 1. The evidence we obtained did not support a finding that the USPP cleared the park to allow the President to survey the damage and walk to St. John’s Church. Instead, the evidence we reviewed showed that the USPP cleared the park to allow the contractor to safely install the antiscale fencing in response to destruction of property and injury to officers occurring on May 30 and 31.

“Further, the evidence showed that the USPP did not know about the President’s potential movement until mid-to-late afternoon on June 1—hours after it had begun developing its operational plan and the fencing contractor had arrived in the park.”

The report also confirmed that it was the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, under the control of Democrat Mayor Muriel Bowser, who used tear gas at a different site nearby after protesters had already been cleared from the park.

The Mayor initially denied that D.C. Metro police took part in any of the actions and called the federal response “shameful.” Recently, the Mayor has had to change turn, defending the city’s use of tear gas in a civil lawsuit.

The review did find fault in the sound equipment used to issue warnings to the crowd before dispersal, saying many may not have heard the messages. Also, radio communication problems occurred during the operation and incomplete information on rules of engagement being given to assisting agencies.

 The report is in stark contrast to the version of events given in the mainstream media previously, and the highly praised The Washington Post article published on June 8, 2020, claiming to be a detailed timeline of events.

The Washington Post reported in the article:

“At about 6:30 p.m., just north of the White House, federal police in riot gear fired gas canisters and used grenades containing rubber pellets to scatter largely peaceful demonstrators. Their actions cleared the way for the president, surrounded by the nation’s top law enforcement and military leaders, to walk to the historic St. John’s Church for a three-minute photo op.”

The Post won a 2021 duPont-Columbia Award for its inaccurate video timeline. The award citation read:

“Earlier in the day, President Trump berated local and state leaders as ‘weak’ for not doing more to quell unrest, and in a call with governors he pledged decisive action. ‘We’re going to do something that people haven’t seen before,’ he said, ‘but you got to have total domination, and then you have to put them in jail.’

“Piecing together cell phone video, police phone logs, and other artifacts, the Washington Post’s digital team reconstructed the clearing of Lafayette Park for President Trump’s ‘Bible photo op,’ driving home the disconnect between political ends and violent means.”

False claims blaming Trump for violence against protesters for a photo-op were spread by mainstream media and the Democratic Party and were repeated during the 2020 presidential campaign.

President Trump thanked the IG’s Office for clearing him of the unfounded accusations made by the Left:

“Thank you to the Department of the Interior Inspector General for completely and totally exonerating me in the clearing of Lafayette Park!”


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