Black Lives Matter, protesters add DC police to lawsuit over clearing of Lafayette Square
The Washington, D.C. chapter of Black Lives Matter and several other protesters added the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and several specific officers to a lawsuit over the forcible clearing of Lafayette Square on June 1.
The ACLU and other civil rights groups filed a motion adding Police Chief Peter Newsham and other officers to the suit, alleging D.C. officers joined federal law enforcement agents in forcibly clearing the square ahead of President Trump’s photo-op outside of St. John’s Church.
The lawsuit was filed last week against the Trump administration over the use of chemical agents and rubber bullets.
Newsham has denied that D.C. police were involved in the forcible clearing of the protesters from the area.
Asked about the lawsuit, Sean Hickman, a spokesperson for the department, told the The Hill the department “was not involved in the unscheduled movement of the President from Lafayette Square to St. John’s church on June 1.”
The civil rights groups allege that D.C. officers fired additional tear gas at Dustin Foley and his 15-year-old daughter, identified as “E.X.F,” who were downtown to protest and deliver sandwiches and water to protesters at Lafayette Square.
The groups allege that Foley and E.X.F. fled the area when federal law enforcement agents began clearing the square ahead of Trump’s appearance, and then encountered a “formation of MPD officers blocking two sides of the intersection.”
The officers fired additional tear gas at Foley and E.X.F, who was already coughing from the chemicals released by the federal officers, according to the ACLU.
The civil rights groups also said video footage from filmmaker Roddy Hafiz shows Foley telling officers with his hand raised about his child that can’t breathe because of the gas.
“The video footage we obtained and the experience of Mr. Foley and his daughter directly contradict Chief Newsham’s assertions that D.C. police officers were not involved in the brutal assault on protestors the evening June 1,” Scott Michelman, Legal Director, ACLU of the District of Columbia, said in a release.