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Judge dismisses lawsuits against federal officials in Lafayette Square protest

On Monday, a federal judge dismissed a series of lawsuits filed against the federal government for its use of force to drive Black Lives Matter protesters out of Lafayette Square last year. U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled that claims filed against local officers involved in forcibly dispersing the crowd on June 1, 2020, could go forward, but rejected claims for damages against former officials including President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr and Defense Secretary Mark Esper along with some current officials.

The lawsuits, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Black Lives Matter D.C. and individual protesters alleged that protesters’ First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights were violated when U.S. law enforcement agents fired tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and flash bombs to force them and other peaceful protesters to disperse as Trump posed for photos at a nearby church.

A report by an Interior Departments watchdog earlier this month said that U.S. Park Police cleared the protesters from the area to erect fencing and not to make way for Trump’s photo.

Editorial credit: Allison C Bailey / Shutterstock.com

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