Ranking Member Grijalva Statement on New Government Watchdog Report Finding Park Police Used Excessive Force at June 1 Protest

Washington, D.C. – House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today issued the following statement on a new report from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), which found that U.S. Park Police (USPP) used excessive force against two members of the news media during peaceful protests in Lafayette Park on June 1, 2020. The protest demonstration was a result of systemic police violence against Black people, namely the brutal murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.

The use of force incident under investigation in today’s OIG report was the only one referred to the OIG out of 54 that occurred between May 26 and June 15, 2020. The USPP determined through their own internal investigations that the other 53 potential uses of force did not warrant referral.

“Anyone who’s seen the disturbing footage of the Park Police’s brutal crackdown on peaceful protestors on June 1 knows it was anything but reasonable,” said Ranking Member Grijalva. “This report finally provides the proof that federal officers used excessive force that day, but I’m deeply concerned that Interior’s police-investigating-police practice, and unclear use-of-force policies and training, are enabling a circumvention of accountability. As Interior’s Law Enforcement Task Force wraps up its findings and recommendations, I urge them to address these fundamental aspects of police reform.”

Today’s OIG report also pointed out that the USPP lacks a definition of “minimum level of reasonable force,” which could result in ambiguity and lack of certainty in future investigations. The incident described in this report was egregious and well-documented enough to warrant a violation.

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Lindsay Gressard