Attorney General William Barr defended the presence of federal law enforcement and the National Guard in the nation’s capital after Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser criticized him and the president for “adding grievances” to those who were protesting over George Floyd’s death.
Barr told the city’s mayor in a letter on June 9 that bringing in federal and National Guard personnel was necessary because the violent activity and unrest, which started on May 29 and culminated on May 31, had reached dangerous levels and “conveyed the impression that the United States was on the brink of losing control of its capital city.”
Over that weekend, the city saw incidents of looting, violent rioting, and arson, leading to significant damage on federal property, including arson damage to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church. Barr described the violence on May 31 as “reportedly the most violent day of civil unrest in the District in 30 years.”
The attorney general said that increasing federal personnel presence was intended to be a “temporary response to an escalating security crisis” aimed at ensuring that the rioting would end and that law and order would be restored in the city.
“[H]ad the recent demonstrations remained peaceful and within the control of local law enforcement, the President would never have had any need to augment existing resources for the purpose of restoring law and order,” Barr wrote.
He noted that law enforcement personnel from a number of federal agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Prisons were deployed to assist with the enforcement of federal law.
“Let me assure you that the President shares your interest in returning to a situation where such additional forces are unnecessary to maintain law and order in the District,” he added.
Bowser sent a letter to President Donald Trump and other senior officials of his administration, including Barr, to request the withdrawal of all “extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence from Washington D.C.”
In her letter, Bowser expressed concern over the use of federal personnel who were not wearing identifying insignia patrolling the streets and the use of helicopters to disperse crowds.
“The deployment of federal law enforcement personnel and equipment are inflaming demonstrators and adding to the grievances of those who, by and large, are peacefully protesting for change and for reforms to the racists and broken systems that are killing Black Americans,” she wrote in her letter.
Bowser’s office did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.
John Falcicchio, acting deputy mayor for Planning and Economic Development, responded to the letter in a Twitter post calling the letter “revisionist at best,” while criticizing Barr for failing to mention examples of “incitement by their” administration and for omitting information.
“This is revisionist at best/cya at worst; fails to mention examples of incitement by their Admin; and omits that: •deployment of federal assets was not coordinated with nor requested by DC •peaceful protestors were attacked at the direction of the feds •MPD was & is in control,” Falcicchio wrote.
Many of the protests calling for change and reform in policing in the wake of Floyd’s death have been peaceful. But several cities across the nation experienced violent activity such as looting and property destruction amid the protests from outside groups. Federal authorities have blamed the violence on extremist organizations such as Antifa, saying that they were hijacking the protests to carry out their own separate agendas.
Trump has repeatedly cast himself as “your President of law and order” and has vowed to restore order on American streets. On June 7, Trump ordered National Guard troops to start withdrawing in Washington, noting that everything is “under perfect control.”
Meanwhile, Barr has repeatedly condemned the violent rioting amid the Floyd protests and has defended the actions of federal law enforcement officers. He acknowledged the outrage felt by the national community, saying that accountability for Floyd’s death must be addressed, but emphasized that it should be addressed through the regular criminal justice system.
“That system is working and moving at exceptional speed. Already initial charges have been filed. That process continues to move forward. Justice will be served,” Barr previously said.