WASHINGTON, DC- Last year, President Trump was accused of having protesters at Lafayette Park tear gassed in order to facilitate a “photo op.” Now, the DC Metropolitan Police Department has admitted that it was that agency which deployed tear gas, and the president had nothing to do with it, WUSA 9 in our nation’s capital is reporting.
Last year, the New York Times breathlessly claimed that Trump had directed police and the National Guard to disperse the crowd with flash-bang grenades and to deploy tear gas upon them. As the Times reported at the time:
“It was because the president, who spent part of the weekend in a secure bunker as protests roiled, wanted to have his picture taken holding a Bible at a battered church just beyond the gates.”
Before President Trump could stride across Lafayette Square in Washington for a photo op at St. John’s Church, protesters had to be cleared out. What ensued was a burst of violence unlike any seen in the shadow of the White House in generations. https://t.co/zuzOMeqUH8 pic.twitter.com/kZRmZUrqXc
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 3, 2020
Citing unnamed “sources,” the Times claimed the plan was “hatched” to have the president and others walk over to the church, which had been set ablaze the night before, suffering minor damage.
The reporter, Katie Rogers waxed disdainfully about Trump’s speech in the Rose Garden, where she said he “called himself an ‘ally of all peaceful protesters’” while “the sounds of explosions and the yells of demonstrators could be heard. After receiving repeated warnings to disperse before the city’s curfew, the crowd was tear gassed.”
"Now I'm going to pay my respects to a very special place," concludes @POTUS, leaving the Rose Garden and returning to the Oval Office without taking questions.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) June 1, 2020
After President Trump had been repeatedly blamed for ordering protesters tear gassed by the left-wing media, an attorney for the Metro PD admitted this week in court that the department initiated the use of tear gas on protesters in and near Lafayette Park last June.
Protesters and the ACLU have filed suit against federal police, as well as the Metro PD for using tear gas last year.
The Metro PD had consistently denied any involvement in what occurred last June 1 at Lafayette Park, where protesters were cleared from the area just before Trump made his way over to St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Earlier that weekend, Trump, members of his family and some officials were taken to the secure bunker inside the White House by the Secret Service when it was feared the perimeter of the building might be breached by “peaceful” protesters.
However, MPD has now admitted that they discharged tear gas during the June 1 incident. WUSA said they had collected evidence and had video showing that federal police agencies had used tear gas on protesters.
Moreover, Metro police officers were also seen using tear gas in the area of 17th and H streets as protesters fled the federal officers deploying the irritant.
The department has previously refused to acknowledge what, if any type of munitions were used against protesters on that date, with leadership only acknowledging they were merely enforcing Mayor Muriel Bowser’s 7 p.m. curfew.
During a federal court hearing Friday, the department’s attorney outlined reasons why tear gas and other chemical irritants were deployed on protesters.
“The curfew, violence of past nights, chaos created by federal defendants, discharge of tear gas in that direction was not unreasonable,” attorney Richard Sobiecki, who represents the MPD said.
He added that people’s constitutional rights were not violated since officers “did not target specific protesters.”
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ACLU’s lead attorney for the protesters, Scott Michelman said:
“They suggested at various points they were encouraging people to move south on 17th Street. And that was encouraging via tear gas. That day was scarring in multiple ways, just in terms of the unexpected nature of the attack, the brutality of it, and the betrayal that many of them felt.”
On June 1, 2021, the department’s deputy director of communications, Kristen Metzger released the following statement to WUSA-9:
“On June 1, 2020, a number of individuals in the area of 17th and H Streets NW began throwing multiple objects at Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers.
This included an incendiary device attack that seriously burned and scarred the limb of an MPD officer. In response to these assaultive actions, MPD deployed crowd control tools that included tear gas in an effort to stop the riotous behavior and protect both officers and others in the area.
As was stated previously, MPD was not involved in the movement of the President from Lafayette Square to St. John’s church on June 1, 2020.
Ironically, when this all came down last year, Bowser, a political hack went along with the left-wing media’s talking points, saying that “If you are like me, you saw something that you hoped you would never see in the United States of America.”
She totally deflected any blame for tear gas deployment on to federal authorities.
In other words, Bowser is trying to play both sides against the middle.
For their part, the Trump administration maintained that Lafayette Square was cleared because Secret Service and federal law enforcement authorities were trying to widen the perimeter around the White House after what had occurred previously. However, Bowser, the media and leftists argued it was for President Trump to have a photo op.
George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley, writing in The Hill called out Bowser’s apparent hypocrisy this past week.
“Now, one year later, Bowser is keeping the BLM (Black Lives Matter) plaza but opposing the BLM protesters. Here administration insisted in court that the protesters were legitimately teargassed by the metropolitan police to enforce her curfew that night.”
Legal experts and the media also are silent as the Biden Administration advances the very same legal position of the Trump Administration that “Presidential security is a paramount government interest that weighs heavily in the Fourth Amendment balance."https://t.co/BbflgtWAqz
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) June 3, 2021
Continuing, Turley wrote:
“Now, with Trump out of the White House, Bowser’s administration insists there was nothing unreasonable in the use of tear gas to enforce a curfew and is asking the court to dismiss the lawsuits by protesters, including Black Lives Matter DC. The media that spent the past year denouncing the Trump administration over its alleged use of tear gas seems largely silent as Bowser’s administration claims its own use of force was reasonable.”
…The media lionized Bowser for her stance at the time. She received national acclaim for painting “Black Lives Matter” on the street next to the park and renaming it “Black Lives Matter Plaza.” Now, one year later, Bowser is keeping the BLM plaza but opposing the BLM protesters
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) June 3, 2021
Ironically, the Metro PD denies any involvement “in the movement of the President from Lafayette Square to St. John’s church,” as noted above.
Yet, the host of legal experts and media who condemned the use of tear gas and the clearing of the Lafayette park area last year are entirely silent on the disclosures. https://t.co/BbflgtWAqz
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) June 3, 2021
However, the department admits using tear gas on protesters in the area, despite claims that it wasn’t specifically tied to Trump’s visit to the church. It’s semantics.
Bowser can try to get cover all she wants, but clearly the Metro PD was attempting to enforce HER curfew when they deployed tear gas. Bowser is trying to have it both ways. Despite her trying to blame everything on the Trump administration and the former president himself, she too has culpability.
Not to be outdone, the Biden administration is now asking for the case to be “dismissed entirely,” Turley noted. This is despite the fact that last June, Biden himself was parroting the media and Bowser narrative on the incident. In fact, the Biden DOJ says that presidential security remains a paramount concern for the government in such incidents.
“The Department of Justice (DOJ) maintains that ‘Presidential security is a paramount government interest that weighs heavily in the Fourth Amendment balance.’ The DOJ’s counsel John Martin, added that ‘federal officers do not violate First Amendment rights by moving protesters a few blocks, even if the protesters are predominantly peaceful.’”
Why the sudden change? Trump is out and Biden is in. The media (and Democrats) tried to portray Trump as an out-of-control dictator. Even when only less than lethal force was used it was portrayed as excessive and unconstitutional.
Bowser clearly knew the truth would come out so now she’s trying to give cover to what happened last year, hoping that people forget last year’s narrative. One can imagine if the script were flipped this year and it was a right-wing militia group trying to breach the White House the tear gas would be flying as well, which is as it should be—at a minimum.
All of this has of course been hidden by the mainstream media, who would never give Trump cover for the actions he took last year, as correct as they may have been.
They also don’t want to hurt Bowser, who is trying to get DC statehood and any controversy could further derail that effort more than it already has been. After all, it’s about keeping the Marxists happy.
So, while it appears that these new revelations take some of the “heat” off Trump for what was clearly the right decision last year, it may come at a price for Bowser and Democrats where their goal of two extra Senate seats and a House seat are concerned.
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