D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser asked President Trump Thursday to withdraw the federal law enforcement and military who in recent days have been patrolling the district’s streets.
Bowser’s request, which she posted on Twitter Friday morning, raised concerns with the lack of identifying information on some of those forces’ uniforms, while noting that she had ended the state of emergency in the district.
Bowser alluded to a Monday night episode in D.C. by arguing that a “multiplicity of forces can breed dangerous confusion, such as when helicopters are used in a war-like tactic to frighten and disperse peaceful protestors.”
She said the outside militarized and federal forces posed “safety and national security risks,” and that they have been “inflaming” the recent protests in D.C.
“Our police and incident command have clear channels of communication and roles and it is important to note that these outside units are operating outside the chain of command,” she said.
As the Trump administration toyed with the idea of invoking the Insurrection Act, President Trump has exploited the unique nature of the District of Columbia, which has allowed him to flood the streets with federal and military forces without taking any additional legal steps.
While national guard troops from some states have been deployed throughout the district, other states, including Virginia, New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania have notably refused the Pentagon’s requests to deploy their national guards in D.C.
The presence and additional federal forces, nonetheless, has been “extraordinary,” Bowser said. Protests of police brutality in D.C. have been peaceful in the last few days, though D.C. saw some episodes of looting and rioting early this week. Wednesday was the last night Bowser enforced a curfew in the city.
Tensions over how the feds were handling the D.C. protests came to a head on Monday, when U.S. Park Police and other federal forces used tear gas and brute force to clear out a peaceful protest so that Trump could have a photo op in front of a historic church near the White House.
But anxiety about the militarized response has continued to be felt in D.C. streets, even as violence and protest-related arrests have abated. Many of the forces are wearing uniforms that don’t identify which federal agency they’re from, and some have pointedly refused to identify themselves when asked by civilians and reporters on the street.
Attorney General Bill Barr defended that conduct, even after Trump’s Bureau of Prisons head said he could have done a “better job” of making sure the officials were identifiable.
In her letter, Bowser pointed out that identifying insignia is “mandatory” in D.C., and said the lack of identification is adding “confusion” and creating “unnecessary risks.”
— Mayor Muriel Bowser #StayHomeDC (@MayorBowser) June 5, 2020