McCollum Calls on White House to Provide Full Account on Decision to Forcibly Remove Peaceful Protesters
Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.), Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, released the following statement today:
This weekend, after my letter to Secretary Bernhardt and Acting Chief Monahan of the U.S. Park Police (USPP) went unanswered, I had a call with Secretary Bernhardt to get answers as to how USPP came to use chemical irritants, flash bangs, and rubber bullets to forcibly clear peaceful demonstrators from Lafayette Park before curfew in order for President Trump to have a photo opportunity.
Secretary Bernhardt stated that he did not give an order to forcibly clear protesters or for the tactics used, nor did anyone one within the Department of the Interior (outside of the USPP chain of command). Mr. Bernhardt stated that he was confident that tactical commanders from the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Park Police work together to make those decisions.
As senior officials in the Trump administration continue to deny that they gave the order to clear Lafayette Park, I call upon the White House to provide a full account as to who participated in the decision to forcibly remove peaceful demonstrators and to allow USPP to use chemical irritants and other riot-control weapons.
Demonstrators were protesting actions of racial injustice and police brutality, not only in Minneapolis, but around the United States. We must protect their First Amendment rights and those of the journalists there to report the news.
I will work with my Democratic colleagues in the House to fully investigate this incident, using our oversight and investigative powers. The public deserves full transparency and real answers.