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Attorney Admits D.C. Police Used Tear Gas on Protesters Near Trump’s Controversial Church Photo Op

Donald Trump in front of St. John's Episcopal Church on June 1, 2020

Donald Trump in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church on June 1, 2020.

An attorney for Washington D.C.’s local cops admitted on Friday that officers did use tear gas on protesters around Lafayette Square last June. Critics at the time said the area was cleared so that then-President Donald Trump could have a self-serving photo op at St. John’s Episcopal Church. This included Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, who said POTUS used the church as a “prop.”

Lawyer Richard Sobiecki, who represents D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department, made no mention of the former head of state in a court hearing on Friday over a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union and protesters.

“The curfew, violence of past nights, chaos created by federal defendants, discharge of tear gas in that direction was not unreasonable,” he said, according to WUSA. Reporting at the time showed that protesters in the area were peaceful.

ACLU attorney Scott Michelman told the outlet that police engaged in an “unexpected” attack.

“They suggested at various points they were encouraging people to move south on 17th street,” he reportedly said. “And that was encouraging via tear gas. That day was scarring in multiple ways, just in terms of the unexpected nature of the attack, the brutality of it, and the betrayal that many of them felt.”

Sobiecki’s admission is quite the turn. U.S. Park Police previously denied using tear gas, and some conservative pundits joined in downplaying the police response to the protests.

Those at the scene, including journalists, said tear gas was in fact used on peaceful protesters before the 7 p.m. ET curfew.

Some online remarked bitterly on the admission.

[Screengrab via ABC News]

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