ADDS BLACK LIVES MATTER PLAZA, TRUMP TWEETS AND HOTEL ROW IN GRAFS 7-8, 12-15
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday she requested President Donald Trump remove all "extraordinary" military and federal law enforcement officers from Washington, D.C.'s streets after another night of peaceful demonstrations.
Bowser said she will not be extending the state of emergency and curfew for the nation's capital after no individuals were arrested Thursday night as demonstrations continued against racial injustice.
"We are well equipped to handle large demonstrations and First Amendment activities," Bowser said in a letter sent to Trump June 4, adding that the mass deployment of unidentified federal officers and equipment are "inflaming demonstrators" and adding to their grievances.
"This multiplicity of forces can breed dangerous confusion, such as when helicopters are used in a war-like tactic to frighten and disperse peaceful protesters," she said.
Bowser was referring to surreal images that surfaced on Monday evening of helicopters hovering at or near building lines to kick up strong gusts on demonstrators in the US capital.
The D.C. National Guard said Wednesday it is carrying out an investigation into the incidents, particularly one in which a medical evacuation helicopter was seen carrying out the tactic.
The deployment of a heavily militarized force to the nation's capital has stoked tensions between Bowser and Trump after he repeatedly called on authorities to "dominate" streets. Tensions hit a peak on Monday when federal officers forcefully removed protesters from a park near the White House just minutes before Trump casually walked through the area for a photo opportunity.
Bowser earlier Friday renamed the area near the park "Black Lives Matter Plaza," in both an apparent jab at the president and to honor those who were violently removed Monday.
Many of the federal officers in Washington, D.C. have not donned identifying insignia, nor responded to repeated questions from reporters and demonstrators seeking to understand which agency they are from.
That could lead to further "safety and national security concerns," Bowser said in her letter to the president.
"When citizens are unable to clearly identify legitimate law enforcement officers it creates unnecessary risks for both protesters and officers," she said.
Trump pushed back in a series of tweets in which he slammed the "incompetent" mayor, is now fighting with the National Guard, who saved her from great embarrassment over the last number of nights."
"If she doesn’t treat these men and women well, then we’ll bring in a different group of men and women!" Trump said, likely referring to the highly controversial deployment active duty military personnel, a move Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said is not warranted.
Utah Senator Mike Lee alleged earlier in the day that Bowser would be "kicking the Utah National Guard" out of D.C. on Saturday along with troops from nine other states.
But Bowser, in response, said the D.C. government would no longer be paying their hotel bills, putting the onus on the Army to pick up the tab "until they are recalled home — which I have formally requested from the President."
Demonstrations against police brutality have continued for more than a week nationwide following the death of George Floyd who died after a Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer pinned his neck to the ground during an arrest for nearly nine minutes.
The fired officer has been charged with second-degree murder. Three other officers at the scene have also been dismissed and charged.