State Watch

DC mayor points to federal protest response in push for statehood

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Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) on Thursday said the federal government’s response to recent protests in the city is further evidence that the District needs statehood.

“We are the nation’s capital, a federal district, we’re more than 700,000 taxpaying Americans who don’t have full representation in the Congress and don’t have full autonomy. And so until we fix that, we are subject to the whims of the federal government. Sometimes they’re benevolent and sometimes they’re not. And so we have to fix that,” Bowser said at a press conference.

Law enforcement’s response to the protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week has been thrust into the spotlight after National Guard troops were used to aggressively disperse demonstrators outside the White House complex on Monday.

The D.C. National Guard this week also asked for an investigation into the use of a helicopter in the city for crowd control purposes.

The D.C. National Guard is under the command of the president, Defense secretary and Army secretary since Washington doesn’t have a governor. President Trump activated the entire D.C. National Guard this week, calling on governors across the country to do the same.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the District’s nonvoting representative in Congress, said the recent protests underscored the need for the mayor to have control over the National Guard.

“The D.C. mayor knows best where and when to deploy the D.C. National Guard and to decide whether they should be armed,” Norton said this week. “Under my bill, the President would retain the authority to federalize the D.C. National Guard in the same manner the President can federalize the National Guards of the states and territories, but D.C.’s mayor would have the same authority governors have to deploy the National Guard troops.” 

“Although the overall problem can only be solved by D.C. statehood, the D.C. National Guard Home Rule Act would afford badly needed control and protection for this city immediately.”

Bowser has been vocal in her opposition to the federal government’s oversight of the D.C. National Guard, as well as the Pentagon’s decision to move troops from others states to the Washington region to respond to the protests if needed.

“Obviously we want troops from out of state out of Washington, D.C.,” she said Thursday.

Tags deaths in police custody Donald Trump Eleanor Holmes Norton George Floyd Muriel Bowser police brutality Washington D.C.
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