CLAIM: Democrat senator and failed presidential candidate Kamala Harris (CA) claimed on Twitter that President Trump “tear-gassed peaceful protesters for a photo op” because tear gas and flashbangs were used to disperse assembled protesters in Lafayette Square, outside the White House.
Several other verified Twitter users including Joy Reid, CNN’s White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond, CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy, and former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau repeated the same claim.
CNN repeated the claim on its chyron:
CNN chyron: "PEACEFUL PROTESTERS NEAR WHITE HOUSE GASSED, SHOT WITH RUBBER BULLETS SO TRUMP CAN HAVE CHURCH PHOTO-OP"
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) June 1, 2020
VERDICT: MOSTLY FALSE. Protesters outside the White House were cleared ahead of D.C.’s 7 p.m. curfew, which was announced by Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, earlier in the day.
Alerts about the curfew were sent out directly to smartphones across the District well ahead of time. By violating curfew, protesters would have been breaking the law, making the description “peaceful protesters” largely inaccurate.
Furthermore, the ongoing protests outside the White House, which were in their third day prior to the dispersal, have not been peaceful.
Over the past three days, rioters outside the White House have violently clashed with Secret Service officers, torn down barricades, assaulted journalists (including Breitbart News reporter Matthew Perdie), vandalized historic buildings and monuments, and lit multiple fires, including one that caused damage to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, opposite the White House.
Riots and violence in D.C. and around the White House have led to a full mobilization of the D.C. National Guard. Several other National Guard units were activated in D.C. over the past three days ahead of full mobilization. According to the Associated Press, Mayor Muriel Bowser had requested 500 National Guardsmen yesterday, but as riots escalated Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy ordered the rest of the Guardsmen, totaling around 1,200 soldiers, to report.
On Tuesday morning, WTOP reporter Neal Augenstein posted a thread on social media detailing the U.S. Park Police’s explanation for clearing the park. According to the Park Police, they cleared the park in advance of knowing Trump planned to walk across the park based on officers being pelted with water bottles and protesters climbing on structures within the park.
First on WTOP: U.S. Park Police is explaining its decision-making in clearing Lafayette Square, at least 20 minutes before DC's 7p curfew, on night 4 of protests….
— Neal Augenstein (@AugensteinWTOP) June 2, 2020
Update — The U.S. Park Police’s statement to WTOP has been added to this story.
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Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.