Sen. Elizabeth Warren called for an investigation following the violent dispersal of protesters near the White House on Monday amid reports Attorney General William Barr personally ordered federal officers to remove them.
The Massachusetts Democrat wrote to the inspector general at the Department of Justice on Tuesday, saying she was appalled after largely peaceful protesters gathered in Lafayette Park were confronted by federal police wielding tear gas and flash-bang grenades the day before. Shortly after the crowds were removed, President Donald Trump walked to nearby St. John’s Church for a photo-op, held up a Bible and declared America the “greatest country in the world.”
“This ‘ambush’ of American citizens who were protesting the killing of Mr. Floyd at the hands of a police officer was created to allow the President to partake in a blatantly political photo opportunity,” Warren wrote to Michael Horowitz, the DOJ’s inspector general. “These attacks on peaceful American protestors steps from the White House were sickening and appalling.”
Warren also wrote to the Pentagon’s acting inspector general calling for a probe into the role the agency played in the protests.
The senator’s calls add to growing criticism over police handling of demonstrations following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Protests have spread around the nation for nearly a week, and while they have been largely peaceful, violent clashes have erupted between demonstrators and heavily armed police forces.
Warren showed up to a demonstration in Lafayette Park on Tuesday with her husband, Bruce Mann, and their dog Bailey in solidarity with those gathered.
“I’m here today because nothing changes if we don’t speak out,” the senator told the Washington Post. “It is not enough to stay comfortable in our homes and offices and say we stand in solidarity. It’s important that we get out on the front lines and call out racism everywhere.”