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Black Lives Matter loses suit over Trump's Lafayette Square walk

The LA Times logo The LA Times 7/6/2021 David Yaffe-Bellany
a group of people walking through a cloudy sky: Tear gas floats in the air as a line of police move demonstrators away from St. John's Church across Lafayette Park from the White House, as they gathered to protest the death of George Floyd on June 1, 2020, in Washington. (Alex Brandon / Associated Press) © Provided by The LA Times Tear gas floats in the air as a line of police move demonstrators away from St. John's Church across Lafayette Park from the White House, as they gathered to protest the death of George Floyd on June 1, 2020, in Washington. (Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

A federal judge in Washington ruled that Black Lives Matter can’t claim damages from former President Trump over the removal of protesters from Lafayette Square last summer before his much-publicized walk from the White House to a nearby church.

U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich on Monday dismissed claims by Black Lives Matter and other plaintiffs that Trump, former Atty. Gen. Bill Barr and former Defense 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 Trump, Barr and 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.

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.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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