DeMarco was among the many D.C. Nationwide Guardsmen stationed at Lafayette Sq. on June 1 when federal authorities used tear fuel and flash-bang grenades to clear peaceable demonstrators gathered to protest racial injustice and the killing of Black folks by legislation enforcement. As soon as the sq. had been cleared, President Donald Trump walked throughout it from the White Home for a photo-op with a Bible outdoors St. John’s Episcopal Church, the place rioters had set a small fireplace the evening earlier than.
The fallout from the photo-op was swift. Politicians condemned the tear-gassing of protesters and top military officials who accompanied Trump apologized for their role in the incident. U.S. Park Police officials, whose jurisdiction includes Lafayette Square, initially claimed their officers did not use tear gas to clear the square but later conceded that chemical irritants had been deployed.
“From my observation, those demonstrators — our fellow American citizens — were engaged in the peaceful expression of their First Amendment rights,” DeMarco wrote. “Yet they were subjected to an unprovoked escalation and excessive use of force.”
The White House has defended the decision to clear the square and compared Trump’s walk across it to former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s surveying of war damage in London during World War II and former President George W. Bush’s ceremonial first pitch in Yankee Stadium during the World Series after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
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