An internal investigation into the forced compensation of race justice protesters in Washington, DC, were not influenced by former President Donald Trump’s plans to be photographed outside a church while holding a Bible.
The report released Wednesday by the inspector general of the Department of the Interior concludes that the protesters were authorized by the United States Park Police (USPP) on June 1 for a contractor to begin installing new fences .
Trump had been widely criticized for what appeared to be the blunt cleaning of protesters with pepper pellets and a blast 30 minutes before taking the photo in front of St John’s Church near the White House.
Protesters had taken to the streets in protest of the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police several days earlier, on May 25.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, was convicted by Floyd’s murder in April.
Inspector General Mark Lee Greenblatt said in a statement that the USPP he already had plans to clean up the area and “had begun implementing the operational plan several hours before learning of a possible presidential visit to the park.”
Trump, who he was malformed on Twitter, Facebook and other social media after the Insurrection of January 6 who tried to prevent a joint session of Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s victory to keep Trump in office, issued a statement celebrating the report.
“As we have said throughout, and supported by today’s highly detailed and professionally written report, our fine park police made the decision to clean up the park to allow a contractor to install anti-scale fences safely to protect against riot gear. radical protesters of the BLM, and other violent protesters who are causing chaos and death in our cities, ”Trump said.
“Again, thanks to the Inspector General!”
Still, it appears that Trump administration officials tried to convince authorities to clean up the area. The report documents Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, encouraged commanders shortly before the push to eliminate protesters because of Trump, but was fired.
The report includes the testimony of an unnamed USPP operations commander: “The Attorney General asked him,‘ These people will still be here when POTUS [President of the United States] leave? ‘ The USPP operations commander told us he did not know until then that the president would leave the White House and enter Lafayette Park. “
The testimony continued: “He said he replied to the Attorney General, ‘Are you freaking kidding me?’ and then hung his head and walked away. The Attorney General then left Lafayette Park.”
The report determined that the decision to clear the protesters was justified, but that law enforcement agencies on the scene failed to effectively communicate with each other and failed to communicate warnings to the protesters about the impending crackdown.
Several different law enforcement agencies moved ahead of schedule and started engaging with protesters before the protesters had been sufficiently warned.
The report details how on June 1, a contingent from the Bureau of Prisons arrived at the scene late, did not receive a full briefing and used pepper pellets on protesters “contrary to the USPP incident commander’s instructions”.
The conclusions, which deny any political influence on decisions and cite fog-of-war confusion for any missteps, are likely to be dismissed as insufficient by critics of last summer’s crackdown.
The new report focuses on the decision-making of the USPP, which falls under the Interior Department, and its complicated interactions with various law enforcement entities, including the Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police Department.
It points out that “the USPP and the Secret Service did not use a shared radio channel to communicate” and determines that “weaknesses in communication and coordination may have contributed to confusion during the operation”.
Lafayette Park was DC’s nexus last year national wave of races protests of justice that were sometimes violent.
Trump and his administration suppressed U.S. protests, including a series of protests “Kidnappings” of protesters by federal authorities in Portland, Oregon.
Much of the criticism of compensation and accusations of political influence comes from the decision to move before the 7pm curfew that Mayor Muriel Bowser had set. The push shocked protesters and was criticized as an unnecessary confrontation after two nights of clashes and property damage.
The report concludes that the commanders of the USPP he saw the curfew as irrelevant. He quotes an incident commander as saying, “We weren’t applying the mayor’s curfew. We’re a federal entity. We don’t work directly for the mayor.”
It follows that site commanders “did not believe the protesters complied with the mayor’s June 1 curfew order or that waiting would necessarily reduce unrest.”