Washington D.C. city workers painted the words "BLACK LIVES MATTER" in massive yellow letters right onto the streets of the American capital on Friday. The statement, by city hall, is the latest rebuke to the White House amid demonstrations that have seen clashes between federal police and protesters. Trump on Friday defended the crackdown on demonstrators.
"You have to dominate the streets. You can't let what's happening happen."
A day earlier, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she wanted the federal government to withdraw outside forces brought in in response to the protests. "We want the military - we want troops out of state out of Washington, D.C."
This week saw the deployment of Washington D.C. national guard, along with several hundred active-duty troops from the 82nd Airborne Division.
Guardsmen were en route to Washington from ten other states. And protesters found themselves facing an array of other federal law enforcement agencies, including Customs and Border Protection, the Bureau of Prisons and the Transportation Security Administration. Some of the officers wore uniforms with no discernible insignias, raising questions about their identity and mission.
Federal officers conducted the now-notorious operation cracking down on protesters earlier in the week, deploying smoke and pepper balls to clear part of a park near the White House so that President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr and other officials could stage a photo op at a nearby church.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups filed a lawsuit on Thursday on behalf of the protesters seeking an order declaring that Trump, Barr and other officials violated their constitutional rights.
Barr on Thursday said that operation was necessary to create a buffer between demonstrators and the White House. "My interest was to carry out the law enforcement functions of the federal government and to protect federal facilities and federal personnel, and also to address the rioting that was interfering with the government's function."
The city of Washington, D.C. lacks much of the authority a state governor might have over the deployment of forces. The city's national guard is under the president's authority, and many of the federal monuments and agencies dotting the city have their own armed agents.