Attorney General William Barr defended the tactics deployed by law enforcement earlier this week as they dealt with protesters who gathered in Washington because of the death of George Floyd.
The attorney general, flanked by other federal leaders, spoke publicly for the first time since Monday’s demonstration, when Barr ordered authorities to clear a crowd of protesters that had gathered near the White House moments before President Trump's televised address from the Rose Garden.
On Thursday, Barr said there was “very serious” rioting, a break in and fires set at historic churches and buildings over the weekend.
“The rioters used crowbars to dig out the pavers” and then used them as projectiles to throw at law enforcement, he said.
Barr said there were at least 114 injuries to law enforcement — "most of those to federal agents and most of those inflicted around the White House.” He said that it is “the responsibility of the federal government” to protect that property and keep everyone safe.
Some background: On Monday, Barr and other top officials from agencies responsible for securing the White House had previously planned to secure a wider perimeter around Lafayette Square. During Thursday’s news conference, Barr said it was a coincidence that law enforcement cleared the area later used for the President's walk to the nearby St. John's Episcopal Church, where he posed for a photo.