A coalition of civil rights groups led by the DC chapters of Black Lives Matter and the ACLU sued the Trump administration over its assault on peaceful protesters at Lafayette Park, CNN reports.
The groups filed a lawsuit against Trump, Attorney General Bill Barr, and other federal officials, arguing that federal forces had "no legitimate basis to destroy the peaceable gathering."
"This case is about the President and Attorney General of the United States ordering the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators who were speaking out against discriminatory police brutality targeted at Black people," the lawsuit says.
"For the President to refer to this assault as domination is very telling and indicates a willingness to use brute force to trample on the rights of Americans," Kristen Clarke, the head of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told CNN. "The Lafayette Square assault amounts to unconstitutional and unlawful state-sponsored violence perpetrated against nonviolent civil rights activists. The actions of the government caused harm and were intended to chill the speech and right to assembly of people exercising constitutionally protected rights. This lawsuit is about defending rights that lie at the heart of our democracy."
Trump, Barr defend actions:
Trump on Tuesday declared there were “no problems” in DC after the “overwhelming force" and "domination” encountered by protesters.
Barr, who ordered the protesters to be cleared from the park, defended the actions because the crowd was "becoming increasingly unruly.”
"There was no correlation between our tactical plan of moving the perimeter out by one block and the President's going over to the church," he said.
Lawsuit seized on defense:
The lawsuit seized on the statements.
"For Defendants to describe their actions as 'domination' is telling. To dominate is to establish supremacy by subjugation of others. It is precisely such domination -- in the form of centuries of white supremacy and subjugation of Black lives -- that was the core focus of the peaceful demonstration in Lafayette Square," the lawsuit said.
"The President's shameless, unconstitutional, unprovoked and frankly criminal attack on protesters because he disagreed with their views shakes the foundation of our nation's constitutional order," Scott Michelman, the legal director of the ACLU of the District of Columbia, told CNN. "And when the nation's top law enforcement officer becomes complicit in the tactics of an autocrat, it chills protected speech for all of us."