Black Lives Matter loses suit against Trump over violent removal of protesters from US Lafayette Square

In a photo from June 1, 2020, riot police clash with a protester as they clear Lafayette Park.
In a photo from June 1, 2020, riot police clash with a protester as they clear Lafayette Park.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - A federal judge in Washington ruled that Black Lives Matter cannot claim damages from former President Donald Trump over the removal of protesters from Lafayette Square last summer before his much-publicised walk from the White House to a nearby church.

US District Judge Dabney Friedrich on Monday (June 21) dismissed claims by Black Lives Matter and other plaintiffs that Mr Trump, former attorney-general Bill Barr and former defence secretary Mark Esper directed a conspiracy targeting Black protesters.

"Merely alleging that the defendant officials communicated, without alleging any details of those communications that suggest an unlawful agreement, cannot justify inferring the requisite agreement" for a conspiracy, the judge ruled.

The District of Columbia branch of Black Lives Matter sued Mr Trump, Mr Barr and Mr Esper in June 2020, describing a chaotic scene in which officers fired tear gas, pepper spray capsules, rubber bullets and flash bombs into the crowd.

Judge Friedrich said the plaintiffs could move forward with legal claims against Arlington County and District of Columbia officials who are accused of using force to break up a peaceful protest. "Reasonable officers would have known that such alleged actions violated clearly established law," she wrote.

The judge also said the plaintiffs could challenge the continued restrictions on access to Lafayette Square.