(Natural News) Both mainstream and social media are pushing false narratives about the riot that occurred recently at Lafayette Square, according to United States Attorney General William Barr.
Barr, in an interview with CBS News‘ Face the Nation that was broadcast Sunday, noted that the media is perpetuating “big lies” about the “peaceful protesters” in Lafayette Square who, according to reports, were dispersed violently – just minutes before President Donald Trump and several officials posed for photos in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.
“They were not peaceful protesters. And that’s one of the big lies that the media seems to be perpetuating at this point,” Barr said, after being asked by Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan if the use of violent force was necessary in order to disperse protesters in Washington, D.C.
“There were three warnings given,” Barr said, insisting that the crowd, whom he described as “rioters” and “looters,” were getting violent and belligerent towards authorities.
“All I heard was comments about how peaceful protesters were. I didn’t hear about the fact that there were 150 law enforcement officers injured and many taken to the hospital with concussions,” Barr said, stressing that the scenario does not fit with the description being painted by both mainstream and social media and that he saw the protesters lobbing projectiles at authorities. (Related: Trump repeats calls for the National Guard to help control NYC rioting.)
“The officers were pummeled with bricks. Crowbars were used to pry up the pavers at the park and they were hurled at police. There were fires set in not only St. John’s Church, but a historic building at Lafayette was burned down,” Barr said.
Barr, during his interview, also denied that “tear gas” was used on the protesters, and that only “pepper balls” were used. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) however, defines pepper balls – a projectile munition that lofts irritant powder into the air – as a type of “tear gas” or “riot control agent.”
Barr, in a separate press conference, also denied any “correlation” between his order to forcibly remove the protesters from Lafayette Square and the President’s subsequent visit to St. John’s Episcopal Church.
The Lafayette Square protest is part of a series of protests staged across the country in memory of George Floyd, the latest victim of police brutality in America.
Despite the onslaught of criticism regarding the events that day, the White House is still standing by Barr’s decision at the Square to use chemical agents on the protesters, noting that it was the “appropriate response” to the situation unfolding before them.
“There’s no regrets on the part of this White House,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a briefing Monday afternoon, adding that Park Police, under Barr’s orders, “acted as they felt they needed to at that time in response.”
“We stand by those actions,” McEnany said.
Trump also praised the actions of the law enforcement team at the Lafayette Square protest, stating that the situation was “handled very well.”
Following the riot and violence that unfolded at the venue, all entrances to Lafayette Square, the Ellipse and other open spaces around the White House that have hosted First Amendment protests for more than 100 years, have since been closed off to the public.
As a response to the violent dispersal at Lafayette, several civil rights advocates have filed a lawsuit Thursday, accusing Trump, Barr and other federal officials of violating the constitutional rights of the protesters that night.
As reported by the New York Post, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of Black Lives Matter D.C. (BLM D.C.) and individual protesters.
“What happened to our members Monday evening, here in the nation’s capital, was an affront to all our rights,” said April Goggans, lead organizer of BLM D.C. – the lead plaintiff in the case. “We won’t be silenced by tear gas and rubber bullets. Now is our time to be heard,” Goggans said.