“The use of federal personnel to prevent American Citizens from exercising their Constitutional right to peaceably assemble represents a direct threat to our democracy.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.),  and Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) sent a letter today seeking answers on the Trump Administration's use of tear gas, pepper spray, smoke canisters, stun grenades, and rubber bullets to forcibly remove peaceful protesters gathered in Lafayette Square. The letter, sent to Attorney General William Barr, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, and Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, follows reports that the President has called for an interagency effort to coordinate the response to protestors in Washington, D.C.

In their letter, Members wrote, "As America grapples with ongoing struggles against police brutality, systemic oppression, and racism, we must each do our part to defend the rights guaranteed to us under the Constitution. The First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly are core to what it means to be an American. The protestors at Lafayette Square complied with the curfew set forth by local officials. They were exercising their rights under the First Amendment. They were assembled peacefully and posed no obvious threat."

Full text of the letter can be found below and here: