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Blaze News investigates: 'Hung us out to dry': Park Police were understaffed and did not have riot gear for WH protest
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Blaze News investigates: 'Hung us out to dry': Park Police were understaffed and did not have riot gear for WH protest

'I don't know why this happened the way it did.'

The Fraternal Order of Police for the U.S. Park Police is speaking out to explain why anti-Israel protesters were able to freely vandalize statues and attack officers without any arrests being made in Lafayette Square, a park that sits right across the street from the White House. The police union told Blaze News that the police were "set up to fail" in containing the unruly mob.

Over 9,000 anti-Israel and pro-Hamas protesters gathered around the White House on Saturday to protest the Biden administration's handling of the Israel-Hamas war. As has been a common occurrence at these large protests, some in the crowd started to vandalize the Rochambeau statue, the General Marquis de Lafayette statue, and the statue of former U.S. President Andrew Jackson.

'It's extremely upsetting. It's another blow to our morale that's already low ...'

Park Police attempted to make an arrest, but they were quickly surrounded by the mob and the person got away. The crowd then chased the officers out of the park. The crowd shouted, "F*ck the police!" and "Kill yourself" as officers walked away.

Police were on standby in the area, but they did not enter Lafayette Square until the protest was over.

In a video released on Sunday, the USPP FOP revealed there were only 71 officers assigned to the area, mainly because of a years-long staffing shortage. But more than that, the USPP command staff did not deploy a civil disturbance unit, and riot gear was not distributed to officers on Saturday.

USPP FOP Chairman Kenneth Spencer, who was one of the officers attacked and chased away, told Blaze Media in an interview that the officers were "100%" set up to fail.

"It's extremely upsetting. It's another blow to our morale that's already low, knowing that we didn't have the resources that we needed to go out there and effectively do our job. We had to watch the resources we're supposed to protect get damaged and vandalized," Spencer said.

"My membership — they're furious. They feel they weren't supported, logistically, operationally. We didn't have any of the support that we needed to effectively carry out our mission," he added.

Spencer could not say whether or not politics played into the officers being unprepared. "I don't know where the determination came from. ... So right now, I don't know why this happened the way it did."

Neither the National Park Service nor the Department of the Interior, the parent agencies for the Park Police, responded to a request for comment in time for publication.

Spencer said at the end of the day, the officers don't feel supported by the command staff and that staff "hung us out to dry." Congress is aware of the critical staffing shortages, but unlike other federal law enforcement agencies, nothing has been done to raise pay and offer incentives for retention.

The Park Police are short 200 officers, a big number for a smaller department that has federal and local jurisdiction, has large patrol areas in three big cities, and has to protect some of the nation's most iconic monuments and parks that see large numbers of visitors from around the country and the world.

Spencer warned that if nothing is done to address staffing issues, the current members are worried about the future of the department.

"We need some better equipment. ... The way we do things [in general] is completely unsafe," he noted.

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Julio Rosas

Julio Rosas

Julio Rosas is Blaze Media's National Correspondent.

@Julio_Rosas11 →