Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser discouraged federal agencies from providing assistance to Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department in a letter issued to agencies on Tuesday, effectively asking federal law enforcement to “stand down” as the city handled a pro-Trump rally that eventually became a riot.
“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,” The Hill reported on Tuesday, adding that Bowser specifically requested that any federal officials “notify the city and its police department if federal authorities are deployed.”
Bowser addressed the letter to Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, and acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, and issued it on the heels of a request to the Pentagon for National Guard troops. Bowser apparently wanted to be clear that the National Guard troops and other federal law enforcement officials would be on hand to handle some aspects of crowd and traffic control but would not provide additional security.
The letter went on to demand that federal law enforcement officials notify and consult with D.C. police, ostensibly so that D.C. police could provide direction on the fly.
“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,” Bowser said. “The District of Columbia Government has not requested personnel from any other federal law enforcement agencies. To avoid confusion, we ask that any request for additional assistance be coordinated using the same process and procedures.”
Bowser’s issue with federal law enforcement, it seems per the letter, stems from a report of “unidentified federal police” who appeared during Black Lives Matter protests in Washington, D.C., over the summer. “The Trump administration has deployed phalanxes of officers in riot gear and no identifiable markings to police demonstrations in the capital,” the New York Times explained at the time. “Democrats want to know who they are.”
“Unidentifiable personnel,” Bowser warned, could become a “national security threat.”
Bowser’s letter and D.C. Metropolitan Police’s demands may have slowed federal response to the protest-turned-riot at the United States Capitol on Wednesday. Capitol Police and D.C. police were reportedly overrun as the mob of protesters moved in on the Capitol building. Both the Capitol Police and Metro police chiefs said Thursday that the mob was armed; 60 cops were injured, 15 seriously, and one officer remains in critical condition.
Eventually, a larger contingent of D.C.’s National Guard was activated — after consultations with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Vice President Mike Pence — as was an FBI SWAT team and teams from the Secret Service who helped get legislators and aides trapped in the building to safety.
Federal lawmakers said on Thursday that they intend to investigate why the U.S. Capitol Police’s and D.C. police department’s response was so lacking. The Secretary of the Army added Thursday that the government will take initiative in fortifying the Capitol building, adding a 7-foot “nonscalable wall” that will go up before President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20th.