Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser made it clear Wednesday that the Metropolitan Police report to her, and that she does not believe additional National Guardsmen are needed in the nation’s capital to assist in maintaining order during the George Floyd protests.
“We are examining every legal question about the president’s authority to send troops, even National Guard, to the District of Columbia,” Bowser said during a news conference.
“Another way to put it is, does the President have the legal authority to request [National] Guard from other states?” Bowser asked reporters. “I have the authority to request guards from other states.”
Bowser said she has not asked any National Guardsmen from other states to assist in the capital, but she has requested 100 D.C. National Guardsmen to line the perimeter of the White House, in a limited role and unarmed.
The mayor’s comments come after President Trump announced from the White House Monday that he has suggested every governor “deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers… [to] dominate the streets.”
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“If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said.
“We think that the federal purposes are being stretched,” Bowser said Wednesday. “And that’s what we will continue to examine and push back on.”
Trump also said that he would invoke the Insurrection Act, which would allow him to deploy the U.S. military to suppress civil unrest.
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Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday that he does not support invoking this law.
“The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire situations,” Esper said during a news briefing. “We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”
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The D.C. mayor has been critical of Trump’s response to the protests, and called the president’s actions on Monday “shameful” when he used Metro Police to break up a peaceful protest to take photos in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church while holding a Bible.
Bowser said the president’s actions would make the job of the D.C. police more difficult.