U.S. Parks Police did not disperse racial justice protesters in Washington last year so then-President Donald Trump could pose for photos, according to a report.
Officers used chemical irritants and rubber bullets to clean up Lafayette Park on June 1.
Those present were protesting the murder of George Floyd by the police.
Shortly after, Mr Trump posed for photographs holding a Bible outside nearby St John’s Episcopal Church.
The episode was heavily criticized by religious leaders and senior Democrats, who accused it of using a church building and the Bible for partisan political purposes.
But the report, conducted by the Office of the Interior, said US Parks Police (USPP) officers cleared the area so that anti-lime fencing could be installed by contractors.
Inspector General Mark Lee Greenblatt said they “began implementing the operational plan several hours before they learned of a possible presidential visit to the park.”
The report focused on how and when police made the decision to clean up the park, and did not investigate allegations of individual use of force incidents.
He found that three warnings had been issued to people in the park, but acknowledged that some people may not have heard the warning and the warning did not tell people how to exit the area.
Mr Trump on Wednesday praised the “professionally written report” and thanked Mr Greenblatt for “exonerating” it.
“Our fine park police made the decision to clean up the park to allow a contractor to safely install limescale fences to protect himself from Antifa rioters, radical BLM protesters and other violent protesters. that cause chaos and death in our cities, ”he added.
He was referring to the leftist, anti-fascist and anti-racist political movement, and the Black Lives Matter social movement.
What happened in Lafayette Square?
Protesters had gathered in the park near the White House for days amid mass protests against police brutality and racism in the United States, following the murder of unarmed black man George Floyd .
Police intervened to clear them about 30 minutes before a city-wide curfew went into effect – and just as Mr. Trump began a televised speech from the White House Rose Garden.
After his speech, Mr. Trump went to the church, whose basement had been set on fire the day before, and posed with the Bible.
Rabbi Jack Moline, president of the Interfaith Alliance, said: “See President Trump stand in front of St John’s Episcopal Church while holding a Bible in response to calls for racial justice – right after using military force to eliminate peaceful protesters – is one of the most egregious abuses of religion I have ever seen. “