Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) fired back Saturday at President Trump’s tweets threatening to handle protesters demonstrating in front of the White House with “vicious dogs” and the “most ominous weapons” if they breached the building’s fence.
The protest was one of many across the nation in response to the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police this week.
“I thought the president’s remarks were gross. To make a reference to vicious dogs is no subtle reminder to African Americans of segregationists who let dogs out on innocent [people],” Bowser said at a press conference Saturday.
The mayor said the rhetoric Trump has used surrounding the protests in Minneapolis stokes division and incites violence.
“These attacks are an attack on humanity. They are an attack on black Americans, and they make my city less safe,” Bowser said.
The mayor said she was so busy addressing protest-related business that she hadn’t been briefed on the city’s coronavirus update, which is usually the topic of her daily press briefings.
The protests in Washington on Friday led to a brief lockdown of the White House.
Earlier Saturday, Trump accused Bowser of refusing to allow the city’s police department to help the Secret Service during Friday’s protest outside the White House. The Secret Service later confirmed that D.C. police officers were at the protest.
“My police department will always protect D.C. and all who live and visit here. In fact, that’s exactly what we did last night. Nobody needed to ask the Metropolitan Police to get involved because they already have,” Bowser said Saturday, referring to the District’s municipal police force.
The D.C. police department did not report any instances of using force in what D.C. Police Chief Kevin Newsham described as “peaceful” marches around the National Mall area that were joined by “agitators” in front of the White House.
Bowser noted that the city police department is no stranger to organized protests, which often happen in the District, particularly in front of the Capitol and White House, as they did Friday.
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The mayor said the police have worked in conjunction with the Secret Service “literally dozens of times at Lafayette Park,” referring to a public space directly in front of the White House, which is under federal jurisdiction and therefore not a direct patrol designation of the city’s police force.
Bowser said there are more protests expected Saturday evening. She said the U.S. Park Police have requested assistance from the National Guard for crowd control.
“We understand that there is a protest planned around the Department of Justice, and we would be prepared for protest activity in other parts of the District,” Bowser said