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Protest Policing Policies to Change After Trump’s Lafayette Crackdown

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) said policies governing demonstrations will be updated and clarified after the US Park Police (USPP) and the US Secret Service (USSS) agreed to do so.

DOJ has reached an agreement to settle four lawsuits filed by Black Lives Matter DC and a group of activists in connection with the brutal clearing of racial justice protesters from Lafayette Square near the White House on June 1, 2020. 

The incident took place during nationwide demonstrations that erupted in response to the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, by a police officer in Minneapolis. 

The police intervention, which involved tear gas, rubber bullets, and sound cannons, was shortly before former President Donald Trump, along with other officials, walked to St. John’s Episcopal Church from the White House to pose for photos while holding a Bible in front of the church.

The USPP and USSS are required to update and clarify their protest policing policies and implement the changes within 30 days of the April 13 settlement.

USPP’s new policy will require police officers to wear fully visible badges and nameplates including on outerwear, tactical gear and helmets; implement guidelines concerning the use of non-lethal force, including de-escalation tactics; adopt clearer procedures for issuing dispersal warnings and permitting demonstrators to disperse; and strengthen pre-event planning and on-site coordination between USPP and other law enforcement agencies. 

“The federal government is committed to the highest standards for protecting civil rights and civil liberties in any federal law enforcement response to public demonstrations,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta in a release. “These changes to agency policies for protest responses will strengthen our commitment to protecting and respecting constitutionally protected rights.”

“We hope this updated policy can serve as a model for others to uphold civil rights and facilitate safe demonstrations. It is good for the public and good for our officers. The United States Park Police is committed to ensuring people can gather safely to express our most fundamental and cherished right to free speech,” said Director Chuck Sams of the National Park Service.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had also sued Trump and other federal officials for violating protesters’ constitutional rights in Lafayette Park on June 1, 2020.

ACLU Sues Trump Administration for Firing Tear Gas on Protesters in DC

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