Mayor Challenges Trump Control of Law Enforcement in D.C.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks at a news conference in Washington on Saturday, March 7, 2020, to announce the first presumptive positive case of the COVID-19 coronavirus. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser on Wednesday reasserted her control over enforcing the law in the district from President Donald Trump.

“There has been some discussion about what the home rule charter would allow the president to do in the case of an emergency for federal purposes,” she said.

Bowser said that she was exploring legal options about challenging the president’s authority to call in additional troops to the city.

“We are examining every legal question about the president’s authority to send troops, even the National Guard, to the District of Columbia, and if he has to make any other legal steps to do that,” she said in a press conference. 

She said that she had spoken with the city’s attorney general about the legality of the federal government making law enforcement decisions about the district.

“Does the president have the legal authority to request Guard from other states?” she asked. “I have the authority and have not requested Guard from any state.”

The president called up federal military troops and the National Guard to defend the city on Monday after widespread looting and rioting took place over the weekend. The law enforcement agents dominated the streets of Washington, DC, on Monday night with soldiers in heavy riot gear and low flying helicopters to deter groups of protesters.

But Bowser was angry with Trump’s order, asserting that they made her job and the job of local police officers harder.

Violence and looting diminished on Monday and Tuesday after more forces were brought into the city.

Bowser announced Wednesday that she would change the city curfew from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. after the protests on Tuesday night were mostly peaceful. The curfew allows the police to easily arrest unruly groups in the city.

D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said that there were 288 arrests on Monday night and only 19 arrests on Tuesday night.

Bowser said that there was a marked difference between the two nights.

“The chief found that there wasn’t destruction around in the city,” Bowser said, referring to the second night.

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