Bowser: Armed National Guard, Army Not Wanted On DC Streets

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WASHINGTON, DC — Mayor Muriel Bowser disagreed with President Donald Trump's suggestion that governors deploy the National Guard to "dominate the streets" and called his warning that he might deploy the U.S. military to handle the protests in those states as an "ominous."

"I don't think that the military should be used on the streets of American cities against Americans," Bowser said, during a Tuesday morning press briefing. "And I definitely don't think it should be used for a show."

The president made his remarks early Monday evening during a Rose Garden press conference. The show Bowser was referring to took place a little later, about 25 minutes before the 7 p.m. curfew Bowser had imposed in the District. That's when federal law enforcement officers used tear gas and rubber bullets to push back a crowd of demonstrators in Lafayette Park, so that the president could have his picture taken holding a Bible, as he stood in front of St. John's Episcopal Church.

"I did not see any provocation that would warrant the deployment of munitions, and especially for the purpose of moving the president," Bowser said. She also stood by her post on Twitter Monday night calling the action shameful.

The mayor said she would oppose any effort to deploy armed National Guard or U.S. Army personnel to the District by the President.

"We don't want any armed military and we don't want any of those things on D.C. streets," she said.

On Sunday night, demonstrators who were protesting the death of George Lloyd in police custody last week had set fire to St. John's Episcopal Church and the AFL-CIO building at 16th and L Street, N.W. Bowser had imposed a curfew that ran from 7 p.m. Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday, extending the curfew the same hours for Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham confirmed that officers from his department were not involved in Monday night's action at Lafayette Park, although they did move protesters in the area later in the evening as part of their efforts to enforce the curfew.

Monday was the fourth day of demonstrations taking place in the District to protest Floyd's death. Two separate groups gathered Monday around 3 p.m., for peaceful protests, one near Lafayette Plaza and the other in the vicinity of the U.S. Capitol.

Federal law enforcement officers gave warnings around 6:30 p.m., for the group at Lafayette Plaza to disperse, Newsham said. He had been notified earlier that there would be a presidential movement in the area and MPD officers were not involved in that movement.

Around 7:20 p.m., MPD officers arrested 54 protesters in the area of 17th and I Street for being in violation of the curfew.

A large group of protesters gathered around 9 p.m. in the 1400 block of 14th St., N.W. According to Newsham, they began to exhibit behavior that was similar to what preceded Saturday and Sunday night's violent behavior. MPD officers arrested 194 suspects in the area of 1400 block of Swann St., N.W.

Newsham confirmed that a neighbor in the area had allowed a number of the protesters into his home so that they could avoid being arrested for violating the curfew. MPD did not, in fact, arrest any of the protesters who had taken shelter there.

"My understanding was that Metropolitan Police officers were in constant communication with that homeowner throughout the evening," Newsham said.

Later in the evening, a crowd of about 300 people gathered near MPD headquarters in Judiciary Square.

"During that instance, they were becoming very aggressive," Newsham said. "Police officers had to utilize munitions to disperse that group."

Overall, the amount of damage the District experienced was significantly less than the two previous nights. Two MPD officers were treated for non-life threatening injuries and one police cruiser was set on fire. There was also some destruction of property, such as broken glass and graffiti.

In total, MPD made more than 300 arrests Monday night, with the majority of the arrests being for violation of the curfew, burglary, and rioting.

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This article originally appeared on the Washington DC Patch