A police union for the U.S. Park Police will not be releasing the name of the officer involved in an attack on an Australian TV crew that was reporting on the D.C. protests on Monday.
The incident was caught on camera and broadcast live on air on the Australian show “Sunrise.”
Kenneth Spencer, chairman of The Fraternal Order of Police United States Park Police Labor Committee, said in a statement that the union will not identify the officer due to the pending investigation of U.S. Park Police and “Privacy Act issues.”
Two U.S. Park Police officers have been assigned administrative duties while an investigation is conducted on what happened.
Spencer also said U.S. Park Police can be contacted regarding the supervisor involved because the union does not represent sergeants.
Spencer said reporter Amelia Brace and cameraman Tim Myers were in a “very dangerous area in the middle of violent protesters” that were being cleared from Lafayette Park. U.S. Park Police said in a statement that protesters threw projectiles around 6:30 p.m. Monday.
The Australian crew “may have fallen,” and that because of the loud noise and the “lack of readily identifiable journalist markings,” Brace and Myers were not “readily indistinguishable from violent protesters,” Spencer said.
“We wish the Australian reporting team well and simply wish that the circumstances of their visit had been better,” Spencer said.
The Arlington County Board in Virginia withdrew its officers later that night, saying that they were used for a “purpose not worthy of our mutual aid obligations.”
Arlington County police joined a team of federal law enforcers using chemical agents and flash bangs to forcibly remove a large group of peaceful protesters from Lafayette Park, clearing a path for President Donald Trump to walk over from the White House — following a briefing vowing to crack down on protesters — and to St. John’s Church, which had been damaged in earlier protests, The Associated Press reported.
Trump then posed with a Bible for a few minutes.
On Tuesday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser expressed criticism of the use of force to clear protesters under such circumstances.
“From what I could see, just like you all could see, I didn’t see any provocation that would warrant the deployment of munitions, and especially for the purpose of moving the president across the street,” Bowser said.
Spencer said that at least 51 members of the U.S. Park Police were hurt and five hospitalized during the protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd died while he was being taken into police custody.
“All labor unions in the United States have a duty to defend their members,” Spencer said. “Our union will be doing the same in this matter.”