Bowser to DOJ, Pentagon: DC isn’t asking federal law enforcement to assist with protests

Bonnie Cash

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) told Justice Department and Pentagon leaders on Tuesday that the city is not requesting federal law enforcement assistance with protests organized by President Trump’s supporters this week.

Bowser addressed a letter to acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy and acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, in which she requested that officials notify the city and its police department if federal authorities are deployed. 

The mayor said federal officials did not provide this notification to the city’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) during events last year.

“To be clear, the District of Columbia is not requesting other federal law enforcement personnel and discourages any additional deployment without immediate notification to, and consultation with, MPD if such plans are underway,” she said in the letter. 


The mayor pointed to incidents in 2020 when MPD “was expected to perform the demanding tasks of policing large crowds while working around unidentifiable personnel deployed in the District of Columbia without proper coordination.”

“Unidentifiable personnel – in many cases, armed – caused confusion among residents and visitors and could become a national security threat with no way for MPD and federal law enforcement to decipher armed groups,” she wrote. 

During the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, military personnel, at least some of whom were not wearing identifiers, extended the perimeter around the White House in the days after law enforcement and demonstrators clashed in the area. 

Bowser indicated that MPD “is prepared” for the demonstrations over the next few days and has coordinated with its federal partners, specifically the U.S. Park Police, U.S. Capitol Police and U.S. Secret Service. She noted that these agencies “regularly have uniformed personnel protecting federal assets” in the city.

She also referenced her activation of the D.C. National Guard on Monday, saying the troops will work with the police department. The D.C. National Guard said about 340 members will be activated to assist the city and address the expected protests. 

The mayor’s letter to officials comes as at least four pro-Trump demonstrations are planned for Tuesday and Wednesday when Congress is slated to meet to approve the Electoral College certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s win. Congress’s official meeting is Wednesday. 

The protests intend to support the effort of dozens of Republican lawmakers to challenge the Electoral College results.

But the effort is unlikely to be successful because Democrats control the House and several Republicans in the Senate have said they will not support the attempt.

Tags Black Lives Matter protests D.C. demonstrations Department of Defense DOJ Donald Trump Joe Biden Justice Department Metropolitan Police Department Muriel Bowser Pentagon pro-Trump protests Protests Ryan McCarthy Washington D.C.

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