Lawmakers call for legislation to force federal officers to identify themselves

Lawmakers call for legislation to force federal officers to identify themselves
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Democratic lawmakers are calling for legislation forcing federal law enforcement officers in uniform to clearly identify which department they represent.

The potential legislation comes amid rising concerns from Democrats after officers were seen without any identifying labels on their uniforms as they policed protests in Washington, D.C.

Protests have erupted nationwide over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis.

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“Unacceptable for uniformed federal officers policing constitutionally-protected assemblies to refuse to identify themselves to people who pay their salaries. Denying accountability to the public they serve ensures abuses. I'm working on legislation to stop this,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) tweeted Wednesday.

“We cannot tolerate an American secret police. I will be introducing legislation to require uniformed federal officers performing any domestic security duties to clearly identify what military branch or agency they represent,” Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyConnecticut senators call for Subway to ban open carry of firearms Democrats optimistic about chances of winning Senate Gridlock mires chances of police reform deal MORE (D-Conn.) added later in the day.

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It was not immediately clear if Beyer and Murphy were working together to introduce companion pieces of legislation or would be proposed in separate bills. Neither of their offices immediately responded to requests for comment from The Hill.

The tweets come after some law enforcement and military personnel in Washington were seen with no identifiers outside the White House.

Some law enforcement personnel viewed by The Hill this week did not wear anything identifying which agency they represented, with many dressing in mixed riot gear, helmets and face masks. 

“As a general rule, members of the Army (Active Duty, National Guard, and Reserves) must wear an identifiable uniform,” Thaddeus Hoffmeister, a law professor at the University of Dayton, told The Hill. “The folks you see without an identifiable uniform are primarily federal law enforcement who don't have the same requirements.”

Lafayette Square, the area right outside the White House complex, has seen several consecutive days of protests against Floyd’s death, with demonstrators at times clashing with law enforcement.

Tensions were heightened Monday when officers used smoke grenades and pepper balls to disperse a peaceful crowd, after which President TrumpDonald John Trump Trump responds to calls to tear down monuments with creation of 'National Garden' of statues Trump: Children are taught in school to 'hate their own country' Trump accuses those tearing down statues of wanting to 'overthrow the American Revolution' MORE walked to St. John’s Episcopal Church to pose in front of the cameras holding a Bible.