In an inexplicable departure from basic American Constitutional law, Pres. Donald Trump today ordered a paramilitary attack on nonviolent protesters gathered in Lafayette Park, in front of the White House. In what will likely be studied as an example of Trump’s disregard for basic human rights, a large number of heavily armed security officers, whose affiliation was not clearly marked, launched a combat-style attack on peaceful protesters.
According to NPR:
The plaza between St. John’s Church and Lafayette Park was full of people nonviolently protesting police brutality late Monday afternoon when U.S. Park Police and National Guard troops, with the use of tear gas, suddenly started pushing them away for no apparent reason.
The reason, it turned out, was that Trump wanted to stage a photo op across the Park at St. John’s Church.
Speculation has run wild that the President may have conspired with the Attorney General to create an ad hoc strike force, not officially sanctioned by any law, to carry out the attack. High-ranking administration officials, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—the nation’s highest-ranking uniformed military officer—and the Attorney General walked with Pres. Trump across the recently cleared Park.
Civil rights organizations, as well as leading members of both political parties, have criticized the attack. Legal experts expect there may be lawsuits, or possible criminal inquiries into the conduct of some administration officials.
UPDATE—June 12, 2020
Protesters attacked in Lafayette Park file lawsuit
According to Lawfare:
Three protesters accused members of the Trump administration of violating their First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights, as well as the Posse Comitatus Act, in a complaint filed in D.C. federal court On June 11, 2020. Seeking relief under Bivens and the Posse Comitatus Act, the protesters allege that while demonstrating peacefully in Lafayette Square they were sprayed with tear gar and hit with rubber bullets so the president could clear the crowd and attend a photo-op at a nearby church.