Justice Department

DOJ achieves resolution in 2020 of cases involving Lafayette Square protesters

The Department of Justice has reached settlement in four cases stemming from law enforcement response to demonstrate racial justice at Lafayette Square in Washington, DC, just days after the murder of George Floyd.

As part of the agreement, the US Park Police agreed to amend its policies regarding protests and special events.

The new policy, released Wednesday, requires officers, with the exception of plainclothes personnel, to “clearly identify” as Park Police officers, with badges and nameplates fully visible on their shirts. outerwear, tactical equipment and helmets. The policy also introduces new guidelines regarding the use of non-lethal force, such as prioritizing de-escalation tactics and seeking senior approval before deploying defense equipment.

The following settlement a report last year by Interior Department Inspector General, Mark Greenblatt, who conducted the review after a peaceful protest in Lafayette Square turned violent after police moved in. His report concluded that when federal police officers cleared protesters from the square on June 1, 2020, they did so in consultation with the now-former Attorney General. William Barrto allow a contractor to install the fence – not giving then-President Donald Trump a chance to take a photo at a nearby church.

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But Greenblatt also said it was likely that many of the people gathered in the square did not hear the police’s dispersal warning, and that the Secret Service had already begun to proceed before Park Police could issue a warning. surname. He also discovered that Washington, D.C. police had fired tear gas at protesters, taking Park Police by surprise.

That lack of coordination appears to be reflected in the new policy released Wednesday, which provides guidelines for planning and communication between law enforcement agencies.

secret service, report one of their agents used pepper spray during the June 1 protest, agreed to include language discouraging the use of “boss” force and other tactics in crowds, in a revision of their previous policy.

“The fact that some individuals in a crowd commit illegal acts does not generally provide a common basis for countermeasures by force, dispersing a crowd, or claiming to hold an illegal meeting,” the official said. The new book will state, according to a copy of the settlement.

As part of the settlement, the plaintiffs, including Black Lives Matter DC and others involved in the protests, agreed to dismiss their claims against the agencies.

“These changes to agency policies for objections will strengthen our commitment to protecting and respecting constitutionally protected rights,” said Attorney General Vanita Gupta. said in a statement on Wednesday.

National Park Service Director Chuck Sams added that he hopes his agency’s new policy will act as a model for upholding civil rights and facilitating safe protests.

“It’s good for the public and good for our officers,” Sams said in a statement. “US Park Police is committed to ensuring that people can safely gather to express our most fundamental and cherished freedom of expression.”

NBC News has reached out to Black Lives Matter DC for comment.

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