Jun 7, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Barr accuses media of lying about peaceful protesters outside White House

Attorney General Bill Barr defended his decision to forcibly remove protesters from outside of the White House last week, claiming on CBS News' "Face the Nation" Sunday that the media is lying about the protesters being peaceful and that there was no connection between the incident and President Trump's visit to St. John's Church.

Why it matters: Barr has faced calls for accountability over the use of irritants and smoke balls on protesters in Lafayette Park on Monday before Trump's photo op at St. John's. A number of reporters on the scene insist that the protesters were peaceful, but Barr called it "one of the big lies that the media seems to be perpetuating at this point."

  • "All I heard was comments about how peaceful protesters were," Barr said, referring to protests that had turned violent the previous day. "I didn't hear about the fact that there were 150 law enforcement officers injured and many taken to the hospital with concussions. So it wasn't a peaceful protest. We had to get control over Lafayette Park, and we had to do it as soon as we were able to do that."
  • Barr also claimed that no tear gas was used on Monday. But a U.S. Park Police spokesperson told Vox on Friday that it was a "mistake" to say in a statement that tear gas was not used, acknowledging that the use of "smoke canisters and pepper balls" can cause tears and irritate eyes.

The big picture: Barr said he understands the African American community's "distrust" with police, but denied that law enforcement in the U.S. is "systemically racist." He also dismissed calls to eliminate or reduce immunity to allow for the prosecution of officers, claiming it "would result certainly in police pulling back."

  • "You know, policing is the toughest job in the country," Barr said. "And I frankly think that we have generally the vast, overwhelming majority of police are good people. They're civic-minded people who believe in serving the public. They do so bravely. They do so righteously."
  • "I think that there are instances of bad cops. And I think we have to be careful about automatically assuming that the actions of an individual necessarily mean that their organization is rotten."

Go deeper: Read the full transcript of the interview

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