Attorney General William Barr appeared before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday, where he was grilled over his defense of President Trump’s policies, including the deployment of federal forces to confront Black Lives Matter protesters. In a contentious exchange, Washington Congressmember Pramila Jayapal noted the discrepancy between Barr’s militarized response to Black Lives Matter protesters and armed militia members who displayed white nationalist symbols at protests against public health measures.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal: “When white men with swastikas storm a government building with guns, there is no need for the president to, quote, 'activate' you, because they’re getting the president’s personal agenda done. But when Black people and people of color protest police brutality, systemic racism and the president’s very own lack of response to those critical issues, then you forcibly remove them with armed federal officers, pepper bombs, because they are considered terrorists by the president.”
On Tuesday, an Army National Guard officer who witnessed a crackdown by federal agents on a protest near the White House on June 1 told a House committee he witnessed peaceful protesters being suddenly tear-gassed without warning, calling the deployment an “excessive use of force.” The crackdown came after Attorney General Barr appeared in the park ahead of President Trump’s photo op holding a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.