Statement by AG Racine on President Trump’s Unconscionable Order to Assault Peaceful Protestors Around Lafayette Square

AG Racine Calls on Local Leaders, Law Enforcement to Stand with and Protect District Residents

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Attorney General Karl A. Racine today released the following statement regarding President Trump’s decision to direct federal law enforcement and military police to attack peaceful protestors demonstrating against police brutality outside of the White House last night:

“Today, as the District reels from a night of chaos sparked by a tyrannical president, local government must offer a promise to all residents: we are with you, and we will protect you.

“The entire country watched as Donald Trump ordered federal law enforcement and military police to assault peaceful protesters and clergy exercising their constitutional rights—unconscionably, for a photo opportunity. He intended to shift the conversation away from police brutality. Instead, he gave it a prime-time screening.

“In the District, we are now reckoning with an unhinged president responding to nonviolent demonstration with war-like tactics. District residents are frightened by what this show of federal force may portend—whether tear gas, rubber bullets, and low-flying helicopters will give way to more destructive means.

“The moment demands a unified response from local leaders and law enforcement. We—the Mayor, the Council, OAG, and MPD—must commit to standing in between our community and the boot of tyranny. And we must act on this commitment.

“We must start by promising to defend our residents from harm while they engage in peaceful, nonviolent protest.

“To MPD’s credit, our local officers have made significant progress on this front. Of the 250 people arrested for curfew violations last night, 237 were issued citations and released. That is a significant decrease over past protests, and demonstrates a better, peaceful way to police nonviolent offenses.

“And, when the public has raised questions about the actions of our local police—including the circumstances related to the activity on Swann Street NW—the Chief, as well as other oversight authorities, pledged to review the matter.

“No resident should be subject to use of force of any kind over a nonviolent offense like a curfew violation, especially during a protest over police brutality. These interactions should be opportunities to model calm, respectful police-civilian interactions.  

“What is more, our work here and nationwide cannot end with better police treatment towards protesters. We need new, community-based policing norms that treat all people better. We must make a true effort to finally reckon with America’s original sin.

“Not too long ago, mobs of white Americans regularly lynched black Americans in broad daylight. Today’s extrajudicial killings are documented with cell phone cameras. These incidents deserve our outrage. And that outrage, properly channeled, is where we can find hope for a more just future.

“Americans across the country—white, black, Asian, Latinx, young and old alike—understand that not only have we failed to adequately address systemic racism, but that, in the absence of real reform, the cycle of police killing, protest, and unrest will persist.

“We must encourage our citizens to peacefully demand solutions. We must listen to their calls. And we must act to break the cycle.”