Fact Check: Joe Biden Repeats False Claim that Trump Cleared ‘Peaceful Protesters”

US President Donald Trump walks back to the White House escorted by the Secret Service after appearing outside of St John's Episcopal church across Lafayette Park in Washington, DC on June 1, 2020. - US President Donald Trump was due to make a televised address to the nation on Monday …
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

CLAIM: Former Vice President Joe Biden claimed in the first debate that President Donald Trump had cleared “peaceful protesters” from Lafayette Square so he could walk through it for a photo-op.

VERDICT: FALSE. Ample evidence refutes Biden’s claims.

Breitbart News has fact-checked this false claim before, which Biden and the Democrats in general have made repeatedly:

The Democratic National Convention (DNC) kicked off with the debunked lie that left-wing demonstrators outside the “White House” in late May and early June were “peaceful protesters” and that they were “tear-gassed.”

Eva Longoria Bastón, hosting the first night of the DNC, said that the convention would focus on three issues that Democrats felt were most important:  “the pandemic, an economic downturn, and an ongoing systemic racial injustice.”

She continued: “But we’re not just going to focus on what’s wrong: we’re going to talk about how to make it right. When peaceful protesters were tear-gassed across from the White House, our next speaker stood up, stood strong, and turned that place into the Black Lives Matter Plaza.”

She then introduced Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser, who repeated the lie about peaceful protests, adding that President Donald Trump had been “plotting” to take advantage of the situation, and that he had stood in front of “one of our most treasured houses of worship and held a Bible for a photo-op.”

Mayor Bowser neglected to mention that the church, St. John’s Episcopal Church, had been burned and damaged the night before by the “peaceful protesters.”

The protests at Lafayette Square, outside the White House, were not “peaceful.”

A Breitbart News reporter was assaulted there, as were other journalists. Radical left-wing activists threw bricks, bottles, and rocks at law enforcement, injuring scores of officers.

Attorney General William Barr told CBS News exactly what happened:

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, OK, there were violent riots in- at Lafayette Park where the park police were under constant attack at the- behind their bike rack fences. On Sunday, things reached a crescendo. The officers were pummeled with bricks. Crowbars were used to pry up the pavers at the park and they were hurled at police. There were fires set in not only St. John’s Church, but a historic building at Lafayette was burned down.

All I heard- all I heard was comments about how peaceful protesters were. I didn’t hear about the fact that there were 150 law enforcement officers injured and many taken to the hospital with concussions. So it wasn’t a peaceful protest.

When the park was cleared, it was not for a “photo-op,” but for the safety of law enforcement and the White House itself. And tear gas was not used. Instead, the U.S. Park Police used pepper balls.

Even Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi later admitted: “Maybe they didn’t have tear gas.”

After Black Lives Matter Plaza was created, radical left-wing activists used it to stage further violent protests, first attempting to tear down a statue of President Andrew Jackson, then vandalizing the church.

Moderator Chris Wallace did not point out that Biden’s statement was false.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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