- The Washington Times - Monday, November 16, 2020

Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham said Monday that the “physical disputes” at weekend protests over the results of the 2020 General Election are not typical for the United States.

“The worst of it … was to see our country having those types of physical disputes over an election — that’s something we attribute to other countries across the world. We don’t see that in the United States, so that was the worst for me,” Chief Newsham said during a press conference.

At least three pro-Trump rallies — the Million MAGA March, the March for Trump and the March for 45 — drew thousands to Freedom Plaza on Saturday.

The supporters back Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede the election to presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden amid claims of widespread voter fraud.

The president was greeted Saturday morning by fans when he drove in a motorcade past the crowd on the way to his country club in Virginia.

The afternoon demonstrations were largely peaceful, but violence with counterprotesters erupted at night. Chief Newsham said he was “impressed” with his department’s ability to prevent what could have been “more conflicts.”

“We always prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” the police chief said. “The size of the crowd is really not the issue … it’s how the folks in the crowds behave.”

Chief Newsham said the protests resulted in “very little property damage,” but 21 people were arrested, eight firearms were recovered, four police officers were injured and one person was stabbed.

A spokesperson for D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, said in an email Monday that he did not have any information about whether the police department had incurred extra overtime expenses for the weekend protests.

Mayor Muriel Bowser and Mr. Mendelson agree that such costs should not fall on local taxpayers, and the city contends that the Trump administration still owes the District $43 million for safety expenses incurred earlier this year.

At a briefing earlier this month, Mr. Mendelson cited a “longstanding practice” by the federal government to “reimburse public safety expenses that relate to our being near the nation’s capital.”

Event costs from the protests over the weekend “would be incurred in the new fiscal year, which would be under the new Biden/Harris administration presumably,” according to Mr. Mendelson’s communication director, Lindsay Walton.

“The Chairman prefers [to] speculate on whether or not the next administration will pay back the District,” Ms. Walton said.

Miss Bowser recently sent a request to the council, which is supported by Mr. Mendelson, seeking to redistribute current budget funds in the meantime to largely cover officer overtime expenses from racial justice protests over the summer.

Council members responded to the proposal with concern, noting that the request comes amid use of “concerning police tactics” and the amount of overtime is $10 million more than the department’s entire approved overtime budget.

They also have argued that the money could be used to modernize the D.C. Healthcare Alliance, allow for cost-of-living adjustments for city government workers and bolster the Grandparent Caregiver program.

The mayor’s request prompted Democratic council members Brianne Nadeau (Ward 1), Robert White (at-large) and Charles Allen (Ward 6) to propose a bill that would require the police department to alert the council when it exceeds approved overtime budget by 5%, and to produce a monthly overtime pay spending report.

The council is set to vote Tuesday on the Metropolitan Police Department Overtime Spending Accountability Emergency Act of 2020.

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