Mayor Muriel Bowser asked for the U.S. National Guard to be mobilized in Washington, D.C., in anticipation of protests from supporters of President Donald Trump. She said, “We will not allow people to incite violence, intimidate our residents or cause destruction in our city.”
The pro-Trump events, January 5 and 6, come as Congress gets set to certify the November election results.
The New Year’s Eve request by the mayor, which will activate about 340 guard members, is a contrast from her response in early June, when President Trump called the National Guard into the city during protests over the death of George Floyd. At a June 2 press conference, Bowser said, “We don’t want the armed National Guard, armed military, and we don’t want any of those things on DC streets.”
Bowser did not explain why she wants federal intervention for the Trump rallies, but not for the Floyd demonstrations in June.
USA Today reported on those demonstrations on June 7, saying that they “occasionally devolved into vandalism, looting and clashes with the police.” Other news reports told a much different story:
- On May 30, CNN reported that 11 Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers were injured; police vehicles were damaged; and the Lincoln Memorial, the National WW II Memorial and other buildings on the National Mall were defaced with graffiti.
- On May 31, Fox News reported, “More than 60 Secret Service officers and special agents sustained multiple injuries in three days’ worth of violent clashes” as “protesters threw bricks, rocks, bottles, fireworks and other items at officers and some Secret Service personnel were also ‘directly physically assaulted as they were kicked, punched and exposed to bodily fluids.’”
- On May 31, a local news outlet reported, “Dozens of retail stores in Georgetown and in CityCenter downtown experienced property damage and theft.”
- That same night, protestors defaced with graffiti and attempted to burn down St. John’s Episcopal Church, a National Historic Landmark located across from the White House.
The violence and destruction only slowed when the Trump administration intervened by sending in about 7,600 troops and officers from the National Guard, the Secret Service, the U.S. Park Police, the FBI and other federal agencies. The administration sent in guardsman and other law enforcement personnel several times over the next few months, as protests and violence waxed and waned.
Bowser moved ahead of the January 5 and 6 events, as her office explained in a press release, saying she was working with the District’s Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the response for the planned rallies and called on all MPD officers to report for work.
The mayor used Twitter to ask residents to avoid downtown streets on Tuesday and Wednesday, and she reminded those attending the demonstrations that “District law prohibits anyone from carrying a firearm within 1,000 feet of any First Amendment activity.”
Under federal law, she added, “It is illegal to possess firearms on the U.S. Capitol grounds and on National Park Service areas, such as Freedom Plaza, the Ellipse, and the National Mall.”
Local news outlet WJLA gave a full list of scheduled demonstrations:
- “Moms for America is holding what they’re calling a Save the Republic Rally at the Capitol, Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m. … across the street from the Supreme Court Building.” Scheduled speakers include members of Congress, Baltimore 2020 Congressional candidate Kim Klacik, and Mike Lindell, founder of My Pillow.
- “The Stop the Steal Rally is scheduled to take place in the District from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, at Freedom Plaza.” Speakers include Trump advisor Roger Stone, Pastor Mark Burns Head of Now Network, Former Police Commissioner of New York Bernard Kerik, and Civil Rights Activist Angela Stanton King. “Stop the Steal” is a loose coalition of state and national groups who believe there was fraud that swung the presidential election from Trump to Vice President Joe Biden.
- The “Silent Majority” is a Trump-supporting group that is planning rallies at the National Mall on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the group’s founder, James Epley, speaking three times a day.
- “Women for America First will hold a ‘March for Trump’ to demand transparency and protect election integrity.” Speakers at the event, held at the Ellipse, include members of the organization, Rudy Giuliani, Roger Stone, and Diamond and Silk.
President Trump tweeted, “I will be there. Historic Day!” about the Women for America First demonstration, on January 6.
Photo from Lenin Nolly/REUTERS