“Thank you to the Department of the Interior Inspector General for Completely and Totally exonerating me in the clearing of Lafayette Park! As we have said all along, and it was backed up in today’s highly detailed and professionally written report, our fine Park Police made the decision to clear the park to allow a contractor to safely install antiscale fencing to protect from Antifa rioters, radical BLM protestors, and other violent demonstrators who are causing chaos and death to our cities. In this instance, they tried burning down the church the day before the clearing. Fortunately, we were there to stop the fire from spreading beyond the basement – and it was a great honor and privilege to do so. Again, thank you to the Inspector General!” ~ Former President Donald J. Trump
Inspector general’s report appears to dispel key anti-Trump narrative
The Department of the Interior’s inspector general said Wednesday that Trump White House officials did not forcibly clear protesters from Layafette Park last year during Black Lives Matter protests and riots in Washington and around the United States so that the former president could get his photo taken in front of a church.
The inspector general’s report (pdf) also said the U.S. Park Police (USPP) did not use tear gas to disperse Black Lives Matter protesters near the White House on June 1, 2020. The Metropolitan Police, which is operated by the D.C. municipal government, used tear gas in a separate, unconnected incident, officials said.
Last year, Democrats and some administration officials alleged that former President Donald Trump ordered the clearing of Layfatte Park so he could pose for a picture of him holding a Bible. That incident occurred during the height of left-wing riots, demonstrations, acts of violence, and arson incidents across major metropolitan areas after the officer-involved killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May.
The pictures and allegations, along with other Trump administration actions, became a flashpoint foisted by his critics who claimed the former president mishandled the riots and protests.
Park Police had the authority to clear demonstrators in the park to set up fencing after riots and protests in the area—not because of Trump. The former commander-in-chief has also denied the claims he used police to clear them out.
But, according to Wednesday’s inspector general report, “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.”
Further, Park Police had issued three dispersal warnings before clearing the area, but it was clear the message wasn’t audible for the crowd of protesters, according to the report.
BY JACK PHILLIP
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