A federal judge on Monday dismissed all but two of the claims Black Lives Matter and several individual demonstrators brought against Donald Trump, William Barr, and others in the sprawling lawsuit filed after the clearing of Lafayette Square on June 1, 2020.
Bigger than this legal defeat, however, was the report from the inspector general of the Department of the Interior disproving many of the substantive allegations in the plaintiffs’ complaint — all of which the court had accepted as true in its 50-page opinion.
Attorneys for BLM and the demonstrators now face the unpleasant choice of reframing their case, and thus acknowledging the falsity of their initial allegations, or risking sanctions for alleging facts without evidentiary support.
Court Assumed BLM Complaints Were True
In an opinion issued earlier this week, Judge Dabney Friedrich analyzed the claims Black Lives Matter and several individual plaintiffs brought against a bevy of defendants, including former President Trump, former Attorney General Barr, the U.S. Park Police, the D.C. National Guard, the U.S. Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Arlington County Police Department, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, as well as individual officers working for the various agencies.
Before delving into the various constitutional and statutory claims, Friedrich made clear he “must accept as true all material factual allegations in the complaint” at this stage of the litigation. This governing standard created an interesting dynamic because the complaints (which were amended three times before the court addressed the defendants’ motions to dismiss) and the corresponding oral argument predated the report from the inspector general. Released earlier this month, that report undermined the prevailing narratives about the clearing of Lafayette Park.
So, in deciding the defendants’ motions to dismiss — a procedure used to quickly toss out a case because the alleged facts fail to support a legal claim — the court cited the falsehoods or half-truths of the complaint. “Peaceful protesters assembled in historic Lafayette Park across from the White House,” the court quoted, when “officials, wielding batons, sprayed the crowd with tear gas, flash-bang grenades, smoke bombs, and rubber bullets.”
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