US Park police started planning to clear Lafayette park for new fencing hours before learning of former President Trump’s plans to walk to St. John’s Church, a new report reveals.
The report from the Office of Inspector General revealed that in response to previous days of violent protests, "On the morning of June 1, the Secret Service procured antiscale fencing to establish a more secure perimeter around Lafayette Park that was to be delivered and installed that same day. The USPP, in coordination with the Secret Service, determined that it was necessary to clear protesters from the area in and around the park to enable the contractor’s employees to safely install the fence."
"The USPP planned to implement the operation as soon as the fencing materials and sufficient law enforcement officers arrived at the park. Six other law enforcement agencies assisted the USPP and the Secret Service in the operation to clear and secure areas near the park," the report continues.
According tot he report, the operation to begin clearing the park started at 2:23pm and was completed by 6:50pm.
President trump walked over to St. John’s Church through Lafayette plaza at 7:01pm.
The fence was installed by a contractor from 7:30pm to 12:30am on June 2.
"We found that the USPP had the authority and discretion to clear Lafayette Park and the surrounding areas on June 1," the report states. "The evidence we obtained did not support a finding that the USPP cleared the park to allow the President to survey the damage and walk to St. John’s Church."
The report goes on to state that the park had instead been cleared to allow space for the contractor to install the fencing, and that they didn’t know about President Trump’s plans until alter in the afternoon on June 1.
"Instead, the evidence we reviewed showed that the USPP cleared the park to allow the contractor to safely install the antiscale fencing in response to destruction of property and injury to officers occurring on May 30 and 31," said the report. "Further, the evidence showed that the USPP did not know about the President’s potential movement until mid- to late afternoon on June 1—hours after it had begun developing its operational plan and the fencing contractor had arrived in the park."
The report also admits that while they did issue a dispersal warning, not everyone may have heard it, which contributed to the confusion that evening, and said "weaknesses in communication and coordination" between officers and commanders may have also contributed to the confusion.
"We also found that although the USPP used a soundamplifying long-range acoustic device to issue three dispersal warnings to the crowd on June 1, not everyone could hear the warnings. Furthermore, we found that the USPP does not have a detailed dispersal warning policy applicable to operations like the one that occurred on June 1 and that this may have led to the ineffective warnings issued to the crowd that day," the report states.
"Finally, we found that the USPP and the Secret Service did not use a shared radio channel to communicate, that the USPP primarily conveyed information orally to assisting law enforcement entities, that an assisting law enforcement entity arrived late and may not have received a full briefing on the rules of engagement, and that several law enforcement officers could not clearly hear the incident commander’s dispersal warnings," the report continues.
"These weaknesses in communication and coordination may have contributed to confusion during the operation and the use of tactics that appeared inconsistent with the incident commander’s operational plan."
Ken Dilanian said on MSNBC the finding by the inspector general was "really surprising" that the park police had cleared the park out not for Trump, but to place the fencing, and admitted that despite previous reports that protests were nonviolent, that there was violence on the part of the protestors leading up to the placing of the fencing.
The report also admits that the BLM protests of late May and early June in downtown Washington DC last year were violent and destructive.
"Specifically, the Treasury Annex building was vandalized; officers were assaulted with projectiles, such as bottles and bricks; and a brick struck a USPP officer in the head, resulting in the officer’s hospitalization. The protests continued on May 30 and 31 and were mostly peaceful during the day. Similar to May 29, however, acts of violence increased in the late afternoon and evenings," stated the report.
The report goes on to say that protectors there projectiles at law enforcement officials, and damaged private and federal property, which brought about Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s curfew on the city.