Last week, as thousands of migrants were bused from the Mexican border into Washington, D.C. — a “sanctuary city” allegedly a promising safe haven to those in the country illegally – District Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a public emergency and issued a fresh demand that President Joe Biden and the Pentagon activate the D.C. National Guard to deal with the influx.
In the summer of 2020 — when Black Lives Matter protesters started a fire in the basement of the parish house of St John’s Church, when the plate-glass window in front of the AFL-CIO federation headquarters was shattered and a fire was started in its lobby, when cars were burning and demonstrators were running down I Street smashing car windows with metal baseball bats — no such public emergency was declared and Ms. Bowser vehemently opposed summoning the National Guard to help restore order.
Ms. Bowser stood firm then as aerial views showed the White House shrouded in black smoke, President Donald Trump was evacuated to the White House bunker, journalists were being assaulted in the streets, small businesses were looted and multiple gunshots were reported. D.C. residents were told to stay inside for their own safety.
Mr. Trump asked dozens of governors to send their National Guard troops to the nation’s capital to handle the protests. Yet Ms. Bowser was more ready to let her city burn and her central business district be trashed rather than take up Mr. Trump’s offer.
Across the Potomac, then-Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam also refused to deploy the commonwealth’s National Guard, explaining that “it was not requested by the mayor of Washington, D.C.” Ms. Bowser told The Washington Post at the time that she had “been pushing back” on Trump’s attempts to deploy thousands, including active-duty military, to deal with the crisis on the streets of Washington.
“We don’t want the armed National Guard, armed military, and we don’t want any of those things on D.C. streets,” she told the Post. She added that federal protection for monuments and memorials were appropriate, but nothing else.
During the 2020 “Summer of Rage,” Ms. Bowser ended the public emergency and dropped her request for the D.C. Guard to assist in the fight against COVID-19, while doing everything she could to encourage Black Lives Matter protests. Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah blamed her for pushing the Utah National Guard and others out of D.C. hotels.
Ms. Bowser argued that the city should not pay for their accommodations. “Those out-of-state troops would be covered either by the Army or their home states, not by D.C. residents,” she said at the time.
Ms. Bowser informed Mr. Trump in a letter that she had ended the city’s state of emergency and requested Mr. Trump remove all extraordinary federal agents and military assets from the nation’s capital. The city, she insisted, was equipped to handle “large demonstrations and First Amendment activities.”
“I continue to be concerned that unidentified federal personnel patrolling the streets of Washington, D.C. pose both safety and national security risks,” the mayor wrote. “The deployment of federal law enforcement personnel and equipment [is] inflaming demonstrators and adding to the grievances of those who, by and large, are peacefully protesting for change and for reforms to the racist and broken systems that are killing Black Americans.”
The property damage from the Black Lives Matter riots in 140 U.S. cities following George Floyd’s death cost the insurance industry more than any other violent demonstrations in recent history, resulting in at least $2 billion in paid insurance claims. The amount topped the $1.4 billion record set in the weeklong 1992 Rodney King protests in Los Angeles. Between May 30 and June 2 2020, the height of the racial justice protests, 427 “unrest-related” arrests were made in D.C., including 24 juveniles, the police department said.
Yet, according to Ms. Bowser, that wasn’t a public emergency.
What is an emergency, apparently, in the mayor’s mind is the sight of thousands of undocumented migrants being bused into her city from the Texas and Arizona borders — the direct result of Mr. Biden’s open-border policies.
This time around, Ms. Bowser has pleaded with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to send in the National Guard to deal with the logistical and humanitarian strains caused by the new arrivals – a request that has so far been denied, in part because the Guards have no formal training or experience for the mission. Strangely, the “militarization” of the streets of D.C. by the Guard doesn’t seem to faze Ms. Bowser now.
“We need help from our federal partners as we seek to stabilize and manage our operating environment in this critical moment,” she wrote to Mr. Austin last month. She begged for support “to help prevent a prolonged humanitarian crisis in our nation’s capital resulting from the daily arrival of migrants in need of assistance.”
Ms. Bowser begged the Pentagon to deploy the National Guard to help for at least 90 days — even though she said most of the arriving migrants only stay in the city for 72 hours “before moving to their final destination.”
All this even as Ms. Bowser continues to proclaim Washington a sanctuary city, celebrating its “diversity and inclusivity.” She once denounced Trump-era immigration policies, proclaiming, “We are not a country of fear and cruelty.”
Yet, it seems Ms. Bowser has revealed her own fear — and perhaps prejudices — by calling in armed troops to deal with the “emergency” of an influx of immigrants whom she once, hypothetically, welcomed.
• Kelly Sadler is the commentary editor at The Washington Times.