National Guard member told Barr crowd tear-gassed for Trump's photo-op was peaceful: congresswoman

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton describes “an eye-witness account" from "a National Guard member who was on duty"

Published June 8, 2020 3:25PM (EDT)

Attorney General William Barr (Getty Images)
Attorney General William Barr (Getty Images)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr have drawn widespread criticism for the president's actions on Monday, June 1, when Washington, D.C. police violently removed nonviolent protestors from Lafayette Square in order to clear a path for the president to make a speech and enjoy a photo-op at St. John's Episcopal Church nearby. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, was briefed on the events by a member of the D.C. National Guard — and according to New York Times reporter Kenneth Vogel, the takeaway is that Barr was told the protestors were peaceful.

In a June 7 press release, Norton describes "an eye-witness account given to" her "by a National Guard member who was on duty" in the nation's capital that day. According to Norton's press release, "Three warnings were given, but the peaceful crowd was too large for most to hear the warnings. The sudden use of smoke and pepper balls caused pandemonium. A horse cavalry pushed the crowd from H street to Connecticut Avenue. The D.C. National Guard member spoke to Attorney General Barr, who was in charge, and explained that the crowd was peaceful, but troops from federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Prisons, remained."

The account went on to say, "At the time the horse cavalry cleared the way for the president and his entourage to go to the church, no additional assets had been found to be necessary — and the D.C. National Guard has remained able to handle the peaceful crowds since."

Vogel, responding to Norton's press released on Twitter, posted, "During the 6/1/20 protests outside the WH, when smoke & pepper balls were used to facilitate TRUMP's photo op, a member of DC's National Guard informed BILL BARR that the protestors were peaceful, per @EleanorNorton."

By Alex Henderson

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Black Lives Matter Donald Trump Politics William Barr