The head of the Ministry of Justice said that the demonstrators gathered in the park were not peaceful
U.S. Attorney General William Barr supported the use of force to clear the demonstrators of Lafayette Square across the street from the White House on Monday evening before President Donald Trump walked through the park to attend a photoshoot in front of the church next door.
“These were not peaceful demonstrators,” he said, speaking in the “Face to the Country” program on CBS. “This is a big lie, one of those that the media support now.”
Barr stated that the demonstrators were warned three times about the need 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 unfolded amid nationwide protests against the death of African-American George Floyd during police detention in Minneapolis.
Barr denied using chemical irritants, such as tear gas, to clean Lafayette Square, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines pepper spray as a type of “tear gas” and “anti-riot agent”.
According to Barr, the park was cleaned up due to violent clashes that took place there on May 29-31, when the police “were subjected to constant attacks.”
“On Sunday, the situation peaked,” Barr said. – The bricks flew at the police. The mounts that were used to pull the tiles in the park flew to the police. “The 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 defensive perimeter around the White House, where Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and their son Barron, live, Barr said.
The prosecutor general said that he had seen various items being thrown at the police.
“But that’s what the media are missing,” he added. – It was not (done) in response to the actions of this particular crowd. It was an operation to expand the perimeter. ”
CBS journalist Margaret Brennan told Barr that for Americans watching television, it looked as though Lafayette Square had been cleared of demonstrators so Trump, accompanied by guards and main assistants, could go to St. John’s Church, where he, holding raised hand bible, participated in a photoshoot.
“In a situation where there is debate about the excessive use of force by law enforcement agencies, have the Americans received the right message in this way?” – asked Brennan.
“The message is sometimes formulated by the media,” said Barr. “I don’t remember a video appearing in the media about what happened on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday [when various objects were thrown at the authorities].”
“I hear only comments about how peaceful the demonstrators were,” he continued. – I have not heard people say that 150 law enforcement officers were injured, that many were hospitalized with tremors. So it was not a peaceful protest. “We needed to regain control of Lafayette Square and do it as soon as we had the opportunity.”