Letter to William Barr, Attorney General - Schakowsky Calls for Special Prosecutor To Investigate Excessive Force Ordered Against Peaceful Protesters
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
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.
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.