Many in the media have expressed outrage over the manner in which police cleared Lafayette Square across from the White House last week shortly ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church there, which had set on fire by demonstrators the night before.
But while many say law enforcement officers were too aggressive on what they’ve characterized as peaceful protesters, Attorney General Bill Barr destroyed that narrative Sunday, revealing in a lengthy interview that the demonstrators were anything but peaceful, the Washington Examiner reported.
“They were not peaceful”
Barr, who was on hand to oversee the operation to clear the park and extend the security perimeter around the White House amid protests over the recent death of 46-year-old George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police, set the record straight Sunday in an interview with CBS’s Face The Nation. According to a transcript provided by the network, host Margaret Brennan asked the AG about the Lafayette Park debacle.
“The federal agents who were there report up to you,” she said, according to the transcript. “Did you think it was appropriate for them to use smoke bombs, tear gas, pepper balls, projectiles at what appeared to be peaceful protesters?”
Barr was quick to clarify. “They were not peaceful protesters,” the attorney general said. “And that’s one of the big lies that the media is — seems to be perpetuating at this point.”
Brennan went on to argue that no warnings were given and no violence had occurred, but Barr insisted, “There were three warnings given.” What’s more, the violence didn’t start on the day of Trump’s alleged “photo-op.”
“On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday…there were violent riots at Lafayette Park where the park police were under constant attack,” Barr told Brennan, according to the transcript. “On Sunday, things reached a crescendo. The officers were pummeled with bricks. Crowbars were used to pry up the pavers at the park and they were hurled at police. There were fires set in not only St. John’s Church, but a historic building at Lafayette was burned down.
“[Protesters] were battling over the fences. They were trying to get entry. They were throwing bricks and inflammable liquid at the police,” Barr added. “There have been 750 officers hurt in the last week. One-fifth of those have been in Washington, D.C. Most of those have been federal officers at Lafayette Park.”
“Obscured by the media”
Barr insisted that the events that transpired over the weekend had been “totally obscured by the media,” but told Brennan they were “appropriate.”
“When they met resistance, yes. They announced three times. They didn’t move,” Barr said. “By the way, there was no tear gas used,” the AG added, mentioning allegations from Democrats and many in the media that chemicals were used to disperse protesters.
“The tear gas was used Sunday when they had to clear H Street to allow the fire department to come in to save St. John’s Church,” Barr told CBS, according to the transcript. “That’s when tear gas was used.”
But will the mainstream media be issuing corrections for their false assertions? I wouldn’t hold my breath.