Black Lives Matter DC v. Trump
April 21, 2022
On June 1, 2020, Black Lives Matter protesters gathered in Lafayette Square Park near the White House to protest against police brutality and the police killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. In a violation of civil rights and what the New York Times named “one of the defining moments of the Trump presidency,” then President Trump and his administration called upon law enforcement to use force and violence to remove protesters from the area, without warning. A short while later, President Trump walked across the street to a nearby church St Johns for a photo opp.
Protesters were hurt, media personnel were attacked, and church volunteers and clergy were pushed off the patio of St. Johns and tear gassed. In response, the ACLU of DC filed to sue President Trump, Attorney General Barr, Secretary of Defense Esper, the D.C. Metropolitan Police department and numerous other federal officials on behalf of Black Lives Matter D.C. and other plaintiffs affected.
And while what happened on June 1st shocked many of us, for civil rights activists it was a very familiar story, something to add to a long list of similar incidents. Freedom of speech and assembly are important tools in the fight for civil rights, but these rights, when exercised by Black Americans, are frequently met with violent pushback from authorities.
Today, we are looking back on this event in light of the ACLU of DC’s case against federal officials and in light of the Biden administration’s new policy changes meant to ensure that this never happens again.
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