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Senator suggests law enforcement used 'excessive force' in Lafayette Square incident

Senator suggests law enforcement used 'excessive force' in Lafayette Square incident
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Sen. Angus KingAngus KingLeadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns Top cybersecurity official ousted by Trump Republicans start turning the page on Trump era MORE (I-Maine) said he believes law enforcement officers used “excessive force” against protesters in front of the White House this month. 

King, the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, wrote a letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt expressing concern and asking questions about U.S. Park Police’s role in the incident. 

“During these demonstrations, the U.S. Park Police, among other Federal law enforcement officers, appeared to use excessive force, chemical agents, and projectiles to indiscriminately remove protesters from President's Park, a park whose founding purpose is described as providing ‘a large open area associated with the White House for freedom of public expression and assembly activities,’” he wrote. 

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“According to multiple witnesses, U.S. Park Police officers also attacked credentialed journalists with shields and riot gear, further infringing upon the American liberties that are supposed to define our nation and democratic government,” he added. 

King also asked the department several questions about the incident including what methods of force officers are allowed to employ and for any specific guidance given for the June 1 incident. 

Law enforcement, including Park Police, used a chemical agent to disperse protesters who had gathered in front of the White House in response to the police killing of George Floyd. 

Shortly thereafter, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Pa. lawmaker was informed of positive coronavirus test while meeting with Trump: report MORE walked through the cleared park to a nearby church for a photo-op.

Bernhardt has told lawmakers that Park Police had faced a “a state of siege” and were subject “attack by violent crowds.”

"The incidents are numerous and include USPP officers having their police cars vandalized; being subject to bombardment by lighted flares; Molotov cocktails, rocks, bricks, bottles and other projectiles; and physical assault so violent that to date over 50 area law enforcement officers have been injured to some degree,” he wrote to members of the House Natural Resources Committee. 

Democratic lawmakers have requested an investigation of the incident.