Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser said she wants out-of-state military troops out of the nation’s capital after they were called in to handle the protests over the death of George Floyd.
“The very first thing is we want the military – we want troops from out-of-state out of Washington, DC,” Bowser said at a press conference Thursday.
In Washington and cities across America, protesters have gathered to demand justice for Floyd, who was killed last week while in custody of the Minneapolis police.
On Monday, the DC National Guard was activated to assist the city’s Metropolitan Police Department with the protests and rolled onto the White House complex with military trucks. As of Thursday, more than 4,500 National Guard Members had been deployed to DC – with several states, including Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah, sending their Guard troops at the request of Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
The only US military personnel operating in the city are National Guard, and no active duty forces have entered the city yet to respond to civil unrest. Unlike state governors, Bowser doesn’t have authority over the DC National Guard. The guard operates in Washington under the authority of the Secretary of the Army.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday said that Maryland National Guard troops he sent to DC were tasked with helping guard national monuments, including the Lincoln Memorial
On Thursday, Bowser said she had not spoken to Hogan and “can’t approve” of the mission.
“If I wanted troops from Maryland to come into the district, we are a member of a compact, which allows me to make that request specifically to any state National Guard to do that. I have not done that for any state,” the mayor said.
As the protests continue, DC residents have seen an uptick in law enforcement personnel on the streets, with difficulty discerning their affiliation.
Bowser said Thursday that there are other “federal military assets that we did not request that we understand are under direction of Attorney General (William) Barr.”
The Democratic mayor said she was “very concerned” how federal law enforcement expanded farther out from the White House complex on Wednesday night, and said she requested the DC police chief talk to federal leaders to push the perimeter line back to Lafayette Park, which is in front of the White House.
“When they pushed out onto a DC street, that is too far and that is what we push back on,” Bowser said, confirming that the city was successful in moving the federal forces back toward Lafayette Park.
DC streets are under the jurisdiction of the MPD, but the area around the White House complex falls under federal jurisdiction.
Bowser also argued that public access to federal facilities are “under threat” from the added security and expressed concern that the White House might try to make the expanded security perimeter permanent.
“Keep in mind that that’s the People’s House. It’s a sad commentary that the House and its inhabitants have to be walled off,” Bowser said, adding, “We should want the White House to be opened up.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to President Donald Trump Thursday expressing her concern over the increased presence of federal law enforcement in the nation’s capital and demanding clarity and answers from the administration on the situation and why National Guardsmen from other states are operating in Washington.
“We are concerned about the increased militarization and lack of clarity that may increase chaos. I am writing to request a full list of the agencies involved and clarifications of the roles and responsibilities of the troops and federal law enforcement resources operating in the city,” Pelosi wrote. “Congress and the American people need to know who is in charge, what is the chain of command, what is the mission, and by what authority is the National Guard from other states operating in the capital.”