The resolution (pdf) would have affirmed the constitutional rights of Americans to peaceably assemble and exercise freedom of speech. It also would have condemned Trump “for ordering federal officers to use gas and rubber bullets against the Americans who were peaceably protesting in Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C. on the night of June 1, 2020, thereby violating the constitutional rights of those peaceful protesters.”
“If a senator objects, they should be asked if they believe Americans do not have the constitutional right to exercise the freedom of speech … Do they support the president’s use of tear gas against people, including families, who are peacefully protesting in a public park?” Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer said, according to The Hill.
However, the resolution was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who said the resolution “just indulges in a myopic obsession with President Trump that has come to define the Democratic side,” according to The New York Times.
McConnell then offered his own resolution that condemned racial injustice and riots and called for order to be restored so that “the legitimate grievances of peaceful protesters may be heard and considered,” which was blocked by Schumer.
The McConnell resolution stated that the United States “cannot fully realize the constitutional promise of equal protection and equal justice under the law until unjust police violence against black Americans has been further addressed.” At the same time, it asserted that Americans had no constitutional right to loot, burn, or attack police officers, Fox News reported.
Numerous reports have claimed police used tear gas and rubber bullets to quell protesters in Lafayette Square on Monday. However, United States Park Police Acting Chief Gregory Monahan said in a statement issued June 2 that this was in fact not the case.
“This past weekend’s demonstrations at Lafayette Park and across the National Mall included activities that were not part of a peaceful protest, which resulted in injuries to USPP officers in the line of duty, the destruction of public property, and the defacing of memorials and monuments,” Monahan said.
“Multiple agencies assisted the USPP in responding to and quelling the acts of destruction and violence over the course of the weekend in order to protect citizens and property … No tear gas was used by USPP officers or other assisting law enforcement partners to close the area at Lafayette Park. Subsequently, the fence was installed,” he continued.
The acting chief also noted that during four days of demonstrations, 51 members of the USPP were injured; of those, 11 were transported to the hospital and released and three were admitted.
Widespread protests have broken out across the United States in recent days following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man whom police sought to arrest outside a south Minneapolis grocery store on Memorial Day for alleged fraud.
The father of two was pronounced dead May 25 after he was taken into custody by authorities. A citizen’s cellphone video showed police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost 9 minutes as he struggled to breathe.
Last week, the president said many of the violent protests throughout the United States were being steered by “ANTIFA led anarchists, among others,” and announced his administration would be designating Antifa as a terrorist organization.