- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 5, 2021

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser penned a letter to federal officials Tuesday urging transparency in plans to deploy “unidentifiable personnel” at pro-Trump rallies, a day after having requested the D.C. National Guard be activated this week.

“We are mindful that in 2020, [the Metropolitan Police Department] was expected to perform the demanding tasks of policing large crowds while working around unidentifiable personnel deployed in the District of Columbia without proper coordination,” Miss Bowser said in the letter, referring to the protests.

“Unidentifiable personnel — in many cases, armed — caused confusion among residents and visitors and could become a national security threat with no way for [D.C. police] and federal law enforcement to decipher armed groups,” she wrote.

The mayor was referring to President Trump deploying out-of-state Guardsmen to ensure order during Black Lives Matter protests that included violent antifa activists and saw rioting, looting and clashes in June. At that time, Miss Bowser did not request the activation of D.C. National Guard and objected to Mr. Trump exercising his authority without coordinating efforts with city officials.

The mayor requested Monday assistance from the D.C. National Guard for demonstrations this week against Congress certifying the Electoral College’s results on the presidential election and in support of Mr. Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud denying him victory.

Miss Bowser said the District “is not requesting other federal law enforcement personnel and discourages any additional deployment” without notification and consultation with the MPD in her letter Tuesday to acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, acting U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy.

The D.C. National Guard said that at least 340 unarmed members will be helping the MPD during the rallies. The police department also has coordinated response efforts with the U.S. Park Police and the U.S. Capitol Police.

Though city officials welcomed Black Lives Matter protests last summer (going so far as renaming part of 16th Street NW “Black Lives Matter Plaza”), they are encouraging people to stay away from downtown Washington during this week’s pro-Trump rallies.

The National Park Service has approved at least three First Amendment demonstration permits for use of the National Mall this week.

The conservative group Women for America First changed its permit application Monday from 5,000 to 30,000 expected attendees for the March for Trump in the Ellipse on Wednesday.

Last month, skirmishes erupted between pro-Trump demonstrators and counterprotesters during rallies in support of the president. At least four people were stabbed and more than 30 arrests were made, according to the MPD.

In addition, the police department is investigating as “potential hate crimes” the burning of Black Lives Matter banners at Black churches after the pro-Trump rallies. However, that term was not applied to the burning and vandalism of St. John’s Episcopal Church during last summer’s protests.

Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the leader of the far-right group Proud Boys, was arrested by MPD after arriving in the District on Monday and charged with destruction of property in connection with the burning of the Black Lives Matter banners. Police also charged him with two felony weapons offenses after discovering two high-capacity firearm magazines in his possession during his arrest

Mr. Tarrio was released without bond Tuesday, and he is banned from the District except for legal matters, according to the Associated Press.

No arrests have been made in connection with the property destruction at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide