Judge refuses request to ID officers who cleared protesters from Lafayette Square

A federal judge, hearing a Black Lives Matter DC lawsuit, has refused a request to identify the police officers accused of forcefully clearing protesters from Lafayette Square on June 1.

That day, protesters had gathered outside the White House in a fourth day of demonstrations over the May 25 killing of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.

Black Lives Matter DC and other protesters are suing President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr and the law enforcement officers, named as “John Does” in the case, charging that protesters’ constitutional rights were violated when police, using chemical agents, dispersed the crowd.

Shortly after the crowd was forced from the square, Trump walked from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church, where he posed for pictures while holding a Bible.

U.S. Park Police, reinforced by members of the Arlington County Police Department, conducted the operation, which forcefully cleared the demonstrators from Lafayette Square.

U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled that it’s too early in the case to identify the officers, but has not ruled out the possibility the officers’ names could be disclosed at a later discovery phase of the case.

Black Lives Matter DC and other plaintiffs in the case had asked for a list of the officers who were at the scene of the incident, those who were equipped with certain weapons and those who discharged their weapons.

In denying the request, the judge said that lists of officers who discharged weapons “overlaps considerably with the merits of the plaintiff’s claims.”

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