Bowser draws a Line at Lafayette Park – Feds Agree to Pull Back from DC Streets & No Curfew Tonight

Mayor Bowser at today’s press briefing.

Bowser draws a Line at Lafayette Park – Feds Agree to Pull Back from DC Streets & No Curfew Tonight

June 4, 2020

by Larry Janezich

At a noon press conference today, Mayor Bower said that the federal government had acceded to the city’s request to pull the federal security perimeter which had extended to K Street north of the White House to Lafayette Park.  US Park Police and National Guard had cleared the park of peaceful protesters early Monday evening with tear gas and rubber projectiles, and then gradually moved north into areas under the jurisdiction of MPD.

The Mayor said that yesterday, she had walked down 16th Street toward the White House and saw how far  the federal security perimeter had extended; she directed Chief of Police Newsham and others to work to get the line pushed back.  This morning the fed resources pulled back to Lafayette Park.  Bowser said, “We communicated our needs … we want the military – we want troops from out of state out of D.C.“

In a related matter, when asked to describe conversations about the White House invoking emergency powers to take over MPD, Bowser said she could not discuss every private conversation, but “wants to make clear that at no time will the Mayor support the federal government directing the MPD.”

Regarding efforts to determine what authority the president has to deploy out of state national guard in DC, federalizing the MPD, and closing streets, Bowser said that she was having ongoing conversations with DC’s Office of the Attorney General and said those questions will be addressed – specifically if the president can call other state’s national guard into DC without further legal authority.

Newsham noted that sometimes it’s hard to distinguish DC National Guard from other National Guard units – and that some of the DC National Guard are under control of MPD.  Those 100 unarmed troops are being used for traffic control.  He said other federal military assets which DC did not request are under the control of Attorney General Barr.

Reporters sought clarification about how the federal resources got deployed so far north and how they got pulled back.  Newsham demurred, saying it was a “collaborative agreement – cooperation and communication” and added that the legal battle will play out in the future.  He recognized the widespread concern about unidentified helmeted federal police operating without name tags or agency insignia near the White House in recent days (press reports indicated these were Bureau of Prison officers) and said that correcting that would be a “big ask” in the after action follow up discussion.

Bowser said that the root cause of the dispute between the federal government and the city is “we don’t have full representation in Congress or full autonomy – until we fix that, we’re subject to intrusion by the federal government – sometimes they’re benevolent and sometimes they’re not.”

Concerns remain that White House might make access to Lafayette Park and the Plaza in front of the White House permanent.  Bowser acknowledged they are under threat – and that “we will push back.”  She said federal assets are important to Washington – people need to have access to public buildings.

Bowser said there will be no curfew tonight.

Newsham reported on the number and nature of arrests over the past several days: Arrests: Friday – 0; Saturday – 19; Sunday – 90; Monday – 289; Tuesday – 29; Wednesday – 0.

44% of the arrestees were from DC; 31% from MD; 13 from VA; 4% from other states; 8% with no fixed address or unknown.

63% of the arrests concerned curfew violations; 11% rioting; and 10% burglary.

Additional information is available on the MPD website.

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