Schakowsky Calls for Special Prosecutor To Investigate Excessive Force Ordered Against Peaceful Protesters

June 4, 2020
Press Release

EVANSTON, IL – Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), a Senior Chief Deputy Whip, joined House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Co-Chair David Cicilline (RI-01) and over 80 Congressional colleagues, in calling for a Special Prosecutor to investigate the excessive use of force on Monday evening ordered by U.S. Attorney General William Barr. After President Trump’s Rose Garden speech about the ongoing civil unrest, he headed to St. John’s Church for a photo opportunity, after the Attorney General had ordered Secret Service and other federal government law enforcement agencies to clear the area with brute force and the use of tear gas and other excessive methods.

The letter reads, “we watched as police officers used flashbangs, tear gas, and rubber munitions against a peaceful protest across the street from the White House. Hundreds of law-abiding American citizens had gathered to protest the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man who died last week in Minneapolis under the knee of a police officer. We could not understand why such aggressive tactics were being used – a whole 30 minutes before the District of Columbia’s curfew was set to go into effect – until we saw the President, yourself, and several senior White House officials walk through the site of the protest to film a cynical, political propaganda video that the White House later released through social media.”

The letter concludes, “Given the issues at stake, and your evident role in suppressing the right of the American people to redress their grievances, it is clear that a special prosecutor must be appointed to investigate your actions and the actions of all executive branch officials involved in this action.”

A PDF of the full letter is available HERE, and the full text is pasted below.

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June 4, 2020

 

William Barr

Attorney General

United States Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20530

 

Attorney General Barr:

On Monday, we watched as police officers used flashbangs, tear gas, and rubber munitions against a peaceful protest across the street from the White House. Hundreds of law-abiding American citizens had gathered to protest the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man who died last week in Minneapolis under the knee of a police officer.

We could not understand why such aggressive tactics were being used – a whole 30 minutes before the District of Columbia’s curfew was set to go into effect – until we saw the President, yourself, and several senior White House officials walk through the site of the protest to film a cynical, political propaganda video that the White House later released through social media.

The use of these measures for such a contemptuous purpose would be reason for condemnation on its own. However, the Washington Post reported yesterday that you were responsible for this reprehensible display.

As you know, the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” This appears to have been violated given the fact that no order to disperse was issued, no violence had been reported, and it was still 30 minutes before curfew.

The Supreme Court has held that “expression on public issues ‘has always rested on the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values’" (NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co.), and that “debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open" (New York Times Co. v. Sullivan).

Given the issues at stake, and your evident role in suppressing the right of the American people to redress their grievances, it is clear that a special prosecutor must be appointed to investigate your actions and the actions of all executive branch officials involved in this action.

We look forward to your prompt response.

 

Sincerely,

David N. Cicilline

A. Donald McEachin

Adriano Espaillat

Alan Lowenthal

Albio Sires

Alcee L. Hastings

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Alma S. Adams, Ph.D

Andre’ Carson

Ayanna Pressley

Barbara Lee

Bill Foster

Bill Keating

Bill Pascrell, Jr.

Brendan F. Boyle

Brian Higgins

Carolyn B. Maloney

Chellie Pingree

Danny K. Davis

David Price

Deb Haaland

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell

Denny Heck

Dina Titus

Donald M. Payne, Jr.

Donald S. Beyer Jr.

Donna Shalala

Earl Blumenauer

Eddie Bernice Johnson

Eleanor Holmes Norton

Eliot L. Engel

Frank Pallone, Jr.

G. K. Butterfield

Gerald E. Connolly

Grace Meng

Gwen Moore

Hakeem Jeffries

Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr.

Jamie Raskin

Jan Schakowsky

Jared Huffman

Jerry McNerney

Jim Himes

Joe Neguse

John Garamendi

John Yarmuth

Joseph P. Kennedy, III

Judy Chu

Katherine Clark

Kathy Castor

Linda T. Sánchez

Lizzie Fletcher

Lois Frankel

Lori Trahan

Madeleine Dean

Marcy Kaptur

Mark DeSaulnier

Mark Pocan

Mark Takano

Mary Gay Scanlon

Matt Cartwright

Mike Thompson

Nanette Diaz Barragán

Nita M. Lowey

Norma J. Torres

Nydia M. Velázquez

Peter A. DeFazio

Peter Welch

Pramila Jayapal

Wm. Lacy Clay

Rosa L. DeLauro

Sheila Jackson-Lee

Stephanie Murphy

Steve Cohen

Suzan K. DelBene

Suzanne Bonamici

Sylvia R. Garcia

Ted Lieu

Theodore E. Deutch

Thomas R. Suozzi

Tom Malinowski

Veronica Escobar

Zoe Lofgren

 

 

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