Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bower on Thursday called for statehood for the District of Columbia and demanded that power over the D.C. National Guard transition from the president to the mayor, as law enforcement now reviews its response to the breach of the Capitol building by pro-Trump protesters.
Bowser communicated three priorities for Congress that she said are imported for the district – first, to get statehood on the president’s desk within the first 100 days of the 117th Congress. The second is that Congress “must immediately transfer command of the D.C. National Guard from the president and put it squarely under the command and control of the Mayor of the District of Columbia.”
PEOPLE SEEKING PEOPLE OF INTEREST IN CAPITOL HILL UNREST
She also called on Congress to create a nonpartisan commission to understand security failures that happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6 – “both to hold people accountable, and to ensure it never happens again.” Bowser said it’s important to “understand why federal law enforcement response was much stronger at the protests over the summer than during the attack on Congress Wednesday.”
A viral photo showed national guardsmen standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on June 2 as part of their response to demonstrations in the nation’s capital after the death of George Floyd.
If the District of Columbia becomes the 51st state, Bowser said D.C. would not need to make requests to the secretary of the Army for support from the National Guard. The “mayor/governor” would not be restricted in any way in how to deploy the guard and could be nimble in how to change the National Guard deployment plan, she said. If the plan limits guardsmen to a certain street, then the mayor/governor could make the determination to adjust such limitations.
If the district acquires statehood, and the office of the mayor becomes the office of a governor, Bowser said she still would not have the power to make the decision to put guardsmen on the Capitol steps or put state police on the grounds of the Capitol complex.
Bowser called on the Joint Terrorism Task Force to investigate, arrest and prosecute any individual who entered the Capitol, destroyed property or incited acts of domestic terrorism observed Wednesday.
POLICE RESPONSE TO CAPITOL HILL RIOTS NEEDS INVESTIGATING, SEN. BUNT SAYS
“More immediately, we know that the current president must be held accountable for this unprecedented attack on our democracy,” Bowser said, sharing screenshots of tweets by President Trump from Wednesday. “What happened yesterday is what he wanted to happen, and we must not underestimate the damage he can do to our nation and our democracy over the next two weeks.”
Twitter suspended Trump’s access to his account on Wednesday night.
Bowser said members of Congress have their own separate police force, U.S. Capitol Police, and the Metropolitan Police Department can assist Capitol Police in their operations when requested.
Congress has affirmed that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be the next president and vice president of the United States of America and both will be inaugurated on Jan. 20
“This should send a clear message to the world that despite actions of an unhinged president and those that believe the baseless conspiracies that have been peddled by him and other elected officials, that the United States remains strong. Our democracy is prevailing. Decency is prevailing, and hope and change are on the horizon,” Bowser said.
By Thursday, nearly 70 people had been arrested in connection to the unrest that unfolded after protesters breached fencing and gained access to the Capitol building, forcing Congress into recess and requiring representatives and staff to shelter in place.
The Metropolitan Police Department and FBI are seeking help in identifying individuals shown in photographs and video live streams vandalizing property and entering the Senate chamber.
“As we’ve said consistently, we do not tolerate violent agitators and extremists who use the guise of First Amendment-protected activity to incite violence and wreak havoc,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement Thursday. “Such behavior betrays the values of our democracy. Make no mistake: With our partners, we will hold accountable those who participated in yesterday’s siege of the Capitol.”
Wray said the FBI has deployed its full investigative resources and is working closely with federal, state and local partners to aggressively pursue those involved in criminal activity on Jan 6. FBI agents and analysts “have been hard at work through the night gathering evidence, sharing intelligence, and working with federal prosecutors to bring charges,” he said.
Anyone who can provide tips, information and videos of illegal activity can visit at fbi.gov/USCapitol or call 800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324).
As protesters were forcing their way toward the House chamber, where members of Congress were sheltering in place, a Capitol Hill police officer fired, striking a woman, who was transported to the hospital and later died, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said in a statement. She has been identified as Ashli Babbitt.
Sund confirmed that the department “is conducting a thorough review of this incident, security planning and policies and procedures.”
“The violent attack on the U.S. Capitol was unlike any I have ever experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement here in Washington, D.C. Maintaining public safety in an open environment – specifically for First Amendment activities – has long been a challenge,” Sund said. “The USCP had a robust plan established to address anticipated First Amendment activities. But make no mistake – these mass riots were not First Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behavior.
“The actions of the USCP officers were heroic given the situation they faced, and I continue to have tremendous respect in the professionalism and dedication of the women and men of the United States Capitol Police,” he added.
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Three others were identified as having suffered “medical emergencies” within the grounds of the Capitol and died.
At least 57 officers were injured in the unrest.