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'Don't be proud': Trump urges states to call up National Guard for weekend protests

Tara Copp and Michael Wilner, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump is calling for an increase in National Guard forces across the country ahead of large marches expected this weekend spurred by the death of George Floyd, while Washington's mayor publicly rebuked him over the military presence in the nation's capital.

At a Rose Garden event at the White House on Friday morning, Trump offered praise for members of the District of Columbia's Police Department, the Secret Service and the National Guard for swiftly clamping down on demonstrators in the city.

Protests reached an inflection point on Monday night, when officers from a number of law enforcement agencies wielded batons and chemical agents to forcibly clear an area north of the White House complex.

"They came in and this was like a piece of cake," Trump said of the D.C. National Guard, calling on governors across the country -- but in particular New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo -- to take similar action to "dominate" local streets.

"Don't be proud; get the job done. You'll end up looking much better in the end," Trump said. "You have to dominate the streets. You can't let what's happening happen."

However, after daily increases in the numbers of National Guard forces arriving in the nation's capital to control crowds -- even as the protests have largely become more peaceful -- and street policing by unidentified federal law enforcement personnel, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday asked them all to leave.

 

"The protesters have been peaceful, and last night the Metropolitan Police Department did not make a single arrest," Bowser wrote in a letter to Trump. "Therefore I am requesting you withdraw all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence from Washington, D.C."

The mayor also made a pointed, visible statement on a street that leads to the White House, by having city workers paint "Black Lives Matter" in large, yellow letters, and renaming an intersection alongside Lafayette Square -- where Monday's confrontation occurred -- "Black Lives Matter Plaza."

Bowser's request for federal forces to leave the district set into motion what is likely to be a standoff of federal powers versus local authorities.

President Thomas Jefferson established the D.C. National Guard in 1802. However, because the District of Columbia is not a state, Bowser does not control the D.C. National Guard, like governors in the rest of the country.

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