WH Spox: Cops Who Attacked Aus. Reporters "Have The Right To Defend Themselves"
Special Broadcasting Service News reports that when asked during a press briefing about police conduct during the clearing of Lafayette Square on June 1, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany responded, “When an officer is at risk, they have the right to defend themselves.”
- On June 1, a rally was held in Lafayette Square demanding justice for George Floyd and an end to institutional racism.
- McEnany says that protestors were asked three times over loudspeakers to vacate the park.
- Approximately twenty minutes prior to Washington, D.C.’s curfew, police used tear gas and flash grenades to clear the square, ABC News reports. Shortly afterward, President Donald J. Trump crossed the square on foot and was photographed in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.
- While law enforcement was clearing the square, Amelia Brace and Tim Meyers, a journalist and cameraman from Australia’s Seven Network, were struck with a truncheon and riot shield respectively.
- Brace and Meyers also reported that they were shot with rubber bullets and struggled to breathe when police fired tear gas into the crowd.
- When asked about police conduct in clearing the square, McEnany affirmed that “When an officer is at risk, they have the right to defend themselves.”
- When asked about the use of rubber bullets and tear gas, McEnany categorically denied the claim: “ No tear gas was used and no rubber bullets were used.”
- When reporters asked if “chemical agents” were used, McEnany only repeated, “again, no tear gas was used, no rubber bullets were used.” When a reporter insisted that “chemical agents” were used and that an Episcopal priest on the scene (most likely Reverend Virginia Gerbasi) reported being “gassed,” McEnany answered, “There’s been a lot of misreporting.”
- McEnany also insisted that the decision to clear the square was solely the discretion of Attorney General William Barr and that it “was a decision made long before the church discussion was ever under consideration.”
A reporter asked specifically about “one case, one member of law enforcement bashing the camera of an Australian journalism crew… was that protest cleared in a way that the White House believes was entirely appropriate? So that should be the model for the rest of the country?”
I think the U.S. Park Services, when having bricks thrown at them and frozen water bottles, had the right to act. They acted with the appropriate level of force to protect themselves and to protect the average citizenry and to protect the peaceful protesters who were among them as well.
McEnany closed the briefing by describing several cases of officer injuries and deaths throughout the United States since the beginning of 2020.
These are our heroes. Thank you so much to our officers who are protecting our streets. Many have been shot; some have been killed. It’s a travesty. And let us stand with law enforcement and recognize the huge contribution that they have made to our society and continue to do so each and every day.