Black Lives Matter In Washington, D.C., File Federal Lawsuit Against Trump, Others

( A local affiliate of Black Lives Matter is filing a lawsuit against President Donald Trump because of the measures he took to clear out protestors from Lafayette Square on June 1, before he made his way over to St. John’s Episcopal Church.

The Black Lives Matter affiliate in Washington, D.C., is being represented by lawyers from the ACLU, who said in a federal lawsuit filing that the government had “no legitimate basis” to clear people from the square. They say the use of force such as rubber bullets and flash bombs against the protesters “is a continuation of an unlawful history of oppression of civil rights activists.”

Also named in the federal lawsuit are Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Attorney General William Barr and various heads of federal agencies and law enforcement officers.

According to the lawsuit, Barr, Trump and others violated the constitution and conspired to also violate civil rights. The lawsuit also brings what’s called Bivens claims against law enforcement officers who were on the scene, which is a cause of action available against police for unconstitutional conduct according to a Supreme Court case from 1971.

The ACLU said this suit against the federal government for clearing Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., is just the first action of many it will bring against various authorities in the U.S. for what it labels as police brutality. The lawsuit is claiming that clearing the square violated rights of free speech as well as violated the Fourth Amendment’s right to protection from unwarranted seizure.

The actions of the defendants were “the manifestation of the very despotism against which the First Amendment was intended to protection,” according to the lawsuit.

The outcome of the lawsuit may come down to the status of Lafayette Square itself. The plaintiffs say it’s a historic venue that’s used by activists often since it is so close to the White House. What lawyers for the defense will probably argue, though, is that they had a special interesting in protecting the grounds of the White House when there was unrest going on, which allowed them to take the actions they did.

Back on June 1, Barr said he extended the perimeter around the White House by one block after an historic building on Lafayette Square was burned by rioters over the weekend. They also attacked St. John’s Episcopal Church and wounded police officers.

In a statement, U.S. Park Police said officers on the scene found caches of “glass bottles, baseball bats and metal poles” that were hidden in the area. They also cited reports that said protesters hurled “caustic liquids” and other projectiles right before police cleared Lafayette Square.

In addition to the action taken by law enforcement to clear protesters, the plaintiffs cite tweets from Trump as well as his press conferences and calls with governors where he said governments should “dominate” criminals. The plaintiffs are seeking punitive and compensatory damages, as well as attorneys fees.

The case was assigned the U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich.