Mayor Muriel Bowser Claims D.C. Saw ‘One Night of Rioting’ Last Summer

Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, DC, testifies about making the city the 51st US state d
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) claimed Tuesday during a Senate committee hearing for D.C. statehood that the district had “one night of rioting” last summer, despite multiple nights of riotous unrest occurring over the course of several months in D.C. beginning in May 2020.

Bowser made the remark during her testimony to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee while she was addressing a question from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) about the value of the property damage caused during the riots.

“Just a couple questions in terms of how the district has handled people who have rioted in the summer versus people who breached the Capitol,” Johnson began, adding he condemns “both equally” and citing close to $2 billion in insurance claims nationwide from last year’s riot damage before asking the mayor about D.C.’s damage specifically.

The two then proceeded to have a heated exchange as Bowser twice started to respond by addressing earlier comments Johnson had made rather than answering his question.

Johnson, interrupting Bowser, asked again, “Could you answer the question? Do you have an estimate of the property damage during the summer riots?”

Bowser replied, “I know that we had one night of rioting in the district in the summer,” and eventually added that she did not have a property damage estimate.

Metropolitan Police Department data details hundreds of “unrest-related” arrests it made for offenses that occurred between May, June, July, and August of last year.

Police made 29 arrests for felony “Riot Acts” on May 31, as well as arrests for several other charges, including property defacement, burglary, and curfew violations. Police then made more than 20 additional arrests for felony Riot Acts on June 1 and two additional arrests for misdemeanor Riot Acts on June 2.

During the rest of June, many other “unrest-related” arrests were made for curfew violations, burglaries, destruction of property, defacement of property, assaults on police officers, arson, possession of a Molotov cocktail, and more.

July also saw “unrest-related” arrests, though fewer than May and June. The arrest activity spiked again in August as police made 37 arrests for felony Riot Acts on August 14 and another 15 for felony Riot Acts on August 31.

Bowser has said she condemns riotous behavior, though her comment Tuesday is not her first instance of downplaying the destruction that took place in D.C. last summer. During the Democratic National Convention last August, Bowser referred to protests that took place in Lafayette Square as “peaceful,” despite violence — including numerous injuries to police officers — occurring during them.

Johnson’s question to Bowser, who has long been an advocate for D.C. statehood, came on the heels of several comments from witnesses during the hearing about the constitutionality of converting the nation’s capital to a state.

The Wisconsin Republican justified that the riots last summer and the riot on January 6 presented “an important constitutional issue, which is the equal administration of justice.”

The House passed the D.C. statehood bill — known as the D.C. Admission Act — in April, but S. 51, the Senate version of the bill, is unlikely to garner the 60 votes it would need to overcome a filibuster as no Republican supports the bill and a handful of Democrats remain uncommitted to it.

Write to Ashley Oliver at


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