By Deborah Bailey
Special to the AFRO
Last week a federal judge dismissed several claims brought by Black Lives Matter, and others alleging former White House Officials colluded to forcibly remove peaceful protestors from Lafayette Square during the George Floyd Protests in June 2020.
Lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of Black Lives Matter, in addition to other lawsuits concurrently filed, charged former President Donald Trump, Former Attorney General William Barr, U.S. Park Police Chief Gregory Monahan and other government officials with violating the civil rights of protestors who were dispersed from Lafayette Square with tear gas and pepper spray so Trump could walk from the White House to St John’s Church last year during the last year.
United States District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled plaintiffs could bring civil rights charges against individual local law enforcement officers involved in the June 1, 2020 removal of protester from Lafayette Square. But charges against the former president, attorney general, the U.S. Park Police and other federal officials were “speculative” according to Frederick, who dismissed the federal aspect of the case.
Frederick said plaintiffs failed to show that government officials intentionally purposely meant to violate protestors’ civil rights.
“These allegations, taken as true, do not show sufficient events, conversations or documents indicating an agreement or meeting of the minds amongst the defendants to violate ,” Frederick wrote in the 51-page document.
Additionally, Friedrich indicated Federal officials were protected from paying damages to plaintiffs under the legal doctrine of qualified immunity.
“ ruling essentially gives the federal government a green light to use violence, including lethal force against demonstrators, as long as federal officials claim to be protecting national security”, said Scott Michelman, Legal Director, ACLU of the District of Columbia.
Michelman vowed the ACLU would explore all legal options open to Black Lives Matter in pursuing justice against federal leaders, even if that calls for Congress to close the loophole that prevents federal officials from accountability in this case.
“Slamming the courthouse doors in the face of the demonstrators because the defendants are federal, rather than state or local officials sends exactly the wrong message about what our country stands for,” Michelman said
“Congress should plug this dangerous gap in our system”, Michelman concluded.
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