Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Thursday raised alarm at federal law enforcement operating in Washington, D.C. without identifying themselves, and she wrote to President Trump for a list of every agency involved in policing the nation’s capital.
“We are concerned about the increased militarization and lack of clarity that may increase chaos.” Pelosi wrote in the letter to Trump. “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.”
Americans deserve to know:
Who is in charge?
What is the chain of command?
What is the mission?
What agencies are involved? What are their roles & responsibilities?
And by what authority is the National Guard from other states operating in the Capital?
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) June 4, 2020
Pelosi’s letter demanding transparency comes after protesters and reporters have complained about uncomfortable encounters with unidentified police in various uniforms on the streets of Washington, D.C. and elsewhere, where law enforcement personnel fail to wear badges, identifying insignia or name plates.
Dan Friedman, a national security reporter at Mother Jones, tweeted the image of a cluster of otherwise unidentified law enforcement personnel who provided vague affiliation with “the Department of Justice.”
Asked who they’re with, these guys say only that they’re with “The Department of Justice.” pic.twitter.com/ciVDtP8ndk
— Dan Friedman (@dfriedman33) June 2, 2020
Protesters and members of the press in Washington have been met with armed riot officers with affiliations of uncertain origin and a refusal to distinguish themselves or their role in the show of force mandated by President Trump.
Mike Valerio, a reporter for the CBS affiliate in D.C., tweeted on Wednesday that a group of riot officers refused to identify themselves. They were later identified as officers from the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
.@CBSNews confirms DOJ officers refusing to identify themselves are from the Bureau of Prisons. BOP tells @AndyTriay that their Crisis Management teams "are not wearing BOP specific clothing as they are serving a broader mission." https://t.co/eTSOca5q4f pic.twitter.com/QEthm5Efy9
— Sara Cook (@saraecook) June 3, 2020
Attorney General Bill Barr, who was tasked by Trump to manage law enforcement response to the protests, said many of the unidentified officers were members of Special Operations Response Teams deployed by the Bureau. He added that these teams are “used frequently for emergency response and in emergency situations in either civil disturbances or hurricanes or other things like that.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration is another example of a department that has undergone reassignment for the purposes of quelling protests and unrest over police brutality. In a document first reported by BuzzFeed News, the department was given permission to expand its investigations typically focused on drug-related crimes to the investigation of protest-related criminal activity.
Pelosi is expected to deliver a police reform bill drafted by members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Monday.
Read Pelosi’s letter below: