01:15 - Source: CNN
Washington mayor responds to Trump's use of force on protesters
CNN  — 

Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser requested Friday that President Donald Trump remove all additional federal law enforcement and military presence from the city, arguing that the units are “inflaming” and “adding to the grievances” of people protesting over the death of George Floyd.

“The protestors have been peaceful, and last night, the Metropolitan Police Department did not make a single arrest. Therefore, I am requesting that you withdraw all extraordinary law enforcement and military presence from Washington, DC,” Bowser wrote in a letter to the President, adding that she has ended the state of emergency in DC related to the protests.

Trump has touted a law-and-order message and threatened to send in military troops to quell protests in other states, but most governors have been opposed. DC’s status as a district, not a state, allows the President, and in turn the federal government, more leeway. Combined, at least 5,800 troops, agents, and officers have taken to the streets of the District.

Among them are personnel from the National Guard, US Secret Service, US Park Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, US Marshals Service, Bureau of Prisons, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Protective Service and the Transportation Security Administration.

In her letter, the Democratic mayor expressed concern that “unidentified federal personnel patrolling the streets of Washington, DC post both safety and national security risks.”

She argued that federal law enforcement personnel are “inflaming” protesters and “adding to the grievances of those who, by and large, are peacefully protesting” for reforms.

Bowser accused the “additional, unidentified units” of operating “outside of established chains of command” and adding to the confusion by lacking “identifying insignia.”

“This multiplicity of forces can breed dangerous confusion, such as when helicopters are used in a war-like tactic to frighten and disperse peaceful protesters,” Bowser said, referring to a UH-72 Lakota helicopter that was seen flying low and hovering over crowds on Monday.

CNN has reached out to the Department of Justice.

Attorney General William Barr said Thursday that DOJ had deployed “all the major law enforcement components of the department on this mission,” including officers from the FBI, ATF, the DEA, BOP, and the Marshals Service.

During a Thursday press conference, Bowser made clear that she wants out-of-state military troops out of the nation’s capital. 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, as the mayor of a US city, doesn’t have authority over the DC National Guard.

On Monday, the DC National Guard was activated to assist the city’s Metropolitan Police Department with the protests.

As of Thursday, more than 4,500 National Guard Members had been deployed to DC – with troops from 10 states – at the request of Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

Utah National Guard in DC

The Utah National Guard confirmed Friday morning that its troops are being relocated from local hotels amid claims from a GOP senator that Bowser sought to evict members of the non-DC National Guards, who are in the nation’s capital to bolster law enforcement during the ongoing civil unrest.

Two hundred national guardsmen from Utah have deployed to DC in recent days.

“Last night, we were informed that our service members would be relocated from their hotel rooms. At this time, their housing situation has not been resolved,” Maj. Jamie Thomas, a spokesperson for the Utah National Guard told CNN. It is not clear who told the Utah National Guard they needed to relocate from their hotels.

“The District of Columbia’s National Guard is working diligently to resolve the matter,” Thomas said.

Later Friday, Thomas confirmed in a statement to CNN that the “issue has been resolved” and “the unit has been relocated to a different hotel.”

Thomas could not provide the location for “operational security reasons.”

In a statement Friday, the National Guard Bureau said that some National Guard responders “were quartering in hotel accommodations which had preexisting contractual agreements with the District.”

“Out of respect for existing agreements those facilities have with the city government, those service members have relocated,” it said.

The Bureau referred to DC government for further information.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah tweeted early Friday that he had “heard that Mayor Bowser is kicking the Utah National Guard out of all DC hotels” and that “more than 1200 troops from 10 states are being evicted. This is unacceptable.”

“These brave men and women have risked their lives protecting DC for three days. Rioting, looting, arson, and vandalism have all disappeared (because) these soldiers served. And now they are being kicked to the curb by an ungrateful mayor. This must be stopped,” Lee added.

Lee said that the 200 Guard specialists wrapped up an all-night Thursday shift by 3 am Friday, and were “forced out of their hotel” by 11 am — with another shift scheduled for that night.

Bowser responded to Lee in a tweet of her own, saying, “Senator — until they are recalled home — which I have formally requested from the President, your troops are in DC hotels. However, DC residents cannot pay their hotel bills. The Army can clear that up with the hotel today, and we are willing to help.”

Speaking to reporters later Friday, Bowser said, “At no time, did we intend, or certainly would we be able, to affect evicting any Guardsmen from any hotel.”

“Our message to the hotel was that if they are going to use the rooms that we reserved, then they have to pay for them, or you have to refund us our money,” she said.

She said the city has an agreement with one of DC’s hotels for its Covid-19 response.

Later on Friday, Bowser released a letter she sent to Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine, a Republican, asking him to withdraw his National Guard troops as well.

“I appreciate their service. However, their presence is unnecessary,” Bowser tweeted.

On Twitter Friday afternoon, Trump attacked Bowser as “incompetent,” claimed she was “fighting” with the Guard, and warned that if she doesn’t treat the service members “well” he would bring in a “different group of men and women.”

Asked for her response to Trump during Friday’s news conference, Bowser said, “There are so many things that I could respond to in that tweet, but I think that we all have to just refocus on what’s in front of us and that is that our nation is hurting.”

The Pentagon referred questions about the hotel issue to the mayor’s office.

Asked what operational impact such evictions would have, a National Guard official told CNN, “None. We can sleep on the street if needed and still do our job.”

CNN’s Ryan Browne, Alex Marquadt, Evan Perez and Nicky Robertson contributed to this report.