The Justice Department asked a federal judge to toss lawsuits against former President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr related to the clearing of protesters last summer from Lafayette Square near the White House.
Christopher Hair, a Justice Department attorney, said now that President Joe Biden is in office and unlikely to repeat the forceful tactics, the litigation is not necessary.
“These lawsuits seek to prevent a recurrence of the June 1 events in Lafayette Square,” Hair said, according to Newsweek. He also said the “change in administration” makes the claims moot.
Trump administration officials ordered U.S. military officials and police to clear out a group of demonstrators on June 1, 2020, shortly before Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a curfew. Soon after the group of more than 1,000 mostly peaceful protesters was broken up, Trump and other officials posed for photos outside of St. John’s Episcopal Church, where the former president held up a Bible.
Protests erupted in D.C. and other major cities across the country shortly after George Floyd, a black man, died after an arrest by Minneapolis police in which he was pinned to the ground for more than nine minutes.
The American Civil Liberties Union, representing Black Lives Matter D.C. and three protesters, alleged that Trump administration officials “conspired” to violate protesters’ civil rights when they were forcibly removed.
Other defendants in the suit include the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the Arlington County Police Department, the U.S. Park Police, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Secret Service, and the D.C. National Guard, according to a report by WTOP.
Attorney Randy Mastro alleged law enforcement used smoke bombs, pepper balls, and other use-of-force actions to clear out protesters last summer, adding some demonstrators suffered physical ailments and psychological distress.
The lawsuits seek damages and a court order that would declare authorities conspired to violate civil rights, as well as the First and Fourth Amendment rights of protesters.
U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich, who is considering arguments in four lawsuits against Trump and Barr over the events of June 1, said she would announce a decision later on whether the suits should be dismissed, according to a report by the Associated Press.
Author : Mica Soellner
Source : Washington Examiner : DOJ urges judge to dismiss lawsuits against Trump and Barr over clearing protesters in Lafayette Square