23:00 GMT - Rights groups sue Trump over clearing of peaceful protesters
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the administration of US President Donald Trump, alleging that officials violated the civil rights of protesters who were forcefully removed from a park near the White House by police using chemical agents before Trump walked to a nearby church to take a photo.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court, comes as Attorney General William Barr defended the decision to forcefully remove the peaceful protesters, saying it was necessary to protect officers and federal property.
The suit argues that Trump, Barr and other officials “unlawfully conspired to violate” the protesters’ rights when clearing Lafayette Park on Monday. Law enforcement officers aggressively forced the protesters back, firing smoke bombs and pepper balls into the crowd to disperse them from the park.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the group Black Lives Matter DC and individual protesters who were present. It is filed by the ACLU of DC, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the law firm of Arnold & Porter.