June 09, 2020

Wyden, Grijalva, Haaland Call for Investigation of Park Police's Use of Force Against Peaceful Protesters and Journalists in Lafayette Park

During a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, Wyden also gave Interior officials until the end of the week to explain who gave the directive to Park Police

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and U.S. Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Deb Haaland, D-N.M., this week requested that the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) investigate the U.S. Park Police's use of force against peaceful protesters and journalists in Lafayette Park to clear the way for a staged photo of Donald Trump in front of St. John's Episcopal Church.

"We request that the [OIG] investigate whether the Park Police’s use of force in Lafayette Park complied with applicable law, regulations and agency guidance, including standards set by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. The OIG’s investigation should extend to actions taken by the Park Police and any other Department of Interior law enforcement agencies involved in responding to protests since the death of George Floyd. It also should examine from where the agency received its directives," wrote Wyden, a senior member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and House Committee on Natural Resources Chair Grijalva and Vice Chair Haaland.

"The First Amendment rights to free speech, peaceful assembly, and free press are the building blocks of all other rights. Any actions by the Park Police to muzzle these rights is an affront to all Americans and should be swiftly addressed," the lawmakers concluded.

During a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing, Wyden today pressed a DOI official on the issue and requested that the agency provide a written answer by the end of the week on whether Interior Secretary David Bernhardt gave the directive to clear the protesters out of Lafayette Park.

A copy of the letter to the OIG can be found here.

A video of Wyden's remarks during today's hearing can be found here.