- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 4, 2020

Attorney General William P. Barr on Thursday defended the federal response to the protest in Lafayette Park in D.C. this week, saying the demonstrators had become increasingly unruly.

Mr. Barr had come under fire from Democrats and the media after he had ordered law enforcement to extend the perimeter of Lafayette Square on Monday. Both peaceful and violent protests have taken place at the park, which sits directly across the street from the White House.

The order came just minutes before President Trump walked across the park to a historic church to address the nationwide unrest. Critics have alleged the protesters were moved so the president could stage a photo-op.

But Mr. Barr said some of the protesters had become increasingly violent and government buildings had been set afire and vandalized the night before.

Rioters used crowbars to dig out pavements and throw it at federal officers, resulting in 114 injuries to federal law enforcement officers and 22 had to be hospitalized with serious head injuries or concussions, Mr. Barr said.

“I made the decision that we would try to move our perimeter northward by a block to provide additional protections,” he said.

Mr. Barr also told reporters that protesters were asked three times to move back before the authorities began to push them back. He said the rioting was interfering with the government’s functions.

The attorney general also defended Mr. Trump’s decision to walk across the park to St. John’s Church.

“The president should be able to walk outside the White House and walk across the street,” he said. “I don’t view it as a political act, I think it is entirely appropriate for him to do that.”

“There was no correlation between our tactical plan to move the perimeter out by one block and the president going over to to the church,” Mr. Barr continued.

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