Jun 2, 2020 - Politics & Policy

National Park Service defends clearing of protesters outside White House

Park police

U.S. Park Police in Lafayette Square. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The National Park Service said in a statement Tuesday that while it "is committed to the peaceful expression of First Amendment rights," it "cannot tolerate violence to citizens or officers or damage to our nation’s resources that we are entrusted to protect."

Why it matters: The statement comes one day after NPS officers and U.S. Secret Service were accused of using physical force and tear gas to disperse peaceful protestors outside the White House so that President Trump could visit St. John's Episcopal Church for a photo op.

  • NPS claimed that officers did not use tear gas, but "employed the use of smoke canisters and pepper balls" in response to "violent protesters" throwing "projectiles including bricks, frozen water bottles and caustic liquids."
  • Yes, but: A number of reporters and even clergy members present on the scene claimed that protesters were peaceful aside from a few tense moments.

What they're saying: NPS stated that they originally "issued three warnings over a loudspeaker to alert demonstrators on H Street to evacuate the area," and that "horse mounted patrol, Civil Disturbance Units and additional personnel were used to clear the area."

  • NPS notes that U.S. park police have made no arrests. 51 members of the USPP have been injured amid protests, with 11 transported to the hospital and released and three admitted.
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