Military leaders slam President Trump over protests as Barr defends clearing Lafayette Park
Attorney General Barr considers it justified to remove demonstrators from Lafayette Square
The head of the Ministry of Justice said that the demonstrators gathered in the park were not peaceful
US Attorney General William Barr spoke out in support of the use of force to clear protesters from Lafayette Square, located across the street from the White House, on Monday evening, before President Donald Trump walked through the park to take part in a photo shoot in front of the church next door..
“These were not peaceful demonstrators,” he said on CBS’s Facing the Country program. “This is a big lie, one of those that the media support now.”.
Barr said the protesters were warned three times to leave the park, and only after that the police and representatives of other authorities went on the offensive, using pepper spray against them..
Events developed against the backdrop of nationwide protests against the death of African American George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
Barr has denied using chemical irritants such as tear gas to clean up Lafayette Square, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines pepper spray as a type of “tear gas” and “riot suppression agent.”.
According to Barr, the park was cleared due to violent clashes that took place there on May 29-31, when the police were “subjected to constant attacks.”.
“The situation peaked on Sunday,” Barr said. – Bricks flew at the police. The pry bars that were used to pull the tiles in the park flew to the police. Fires were not only near the Church of St. John (in front of which Trump stood on Monday), the historic building in Lafayette Square also burned down. “.
After the May 31 clashes, park police decided to expand the protective perimeter around the White House, where Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and their son Barron live, Barr said..
Attorney General says he saw various objects thrown at police officers.
“But this is what the media are missing,” he added. – It was not (done) in response to the actions of this particular crowd. It was a perimeter expansion operation. “.
CBS journalist Margaret Brennan told Barr that to Americans watching on television, it looked like Lafayette Square had been cleared of protesters so that Trump, accompanied by security guards and top aides, could walk to St. raised hand Bible, participated in a photo shoot.
“In a situation where there is a debate about the excessive use of force by law enforcement agencies, did the Americans get the right message in this way?” Brennan asked..
“The message is sometimes formulated by the media,” Barr said. “I don’t remember seeing videos in the media about what happened on Friday, Saturday and Sunday [when various objects were thrown at the authorities].”.
“I only hear comments about how peaceful the demonstrators were,” he continued. – I have not heard it said that 150 law enforcement officers were injured, that many were hospitalized with concussions. So it was not a peaceful protest. We needed to regain control of Lafayette Square and do it as soon as we got the chance. “.