In a press conference today, MPD police chief Peter Newsham said yesterday’s DC protests drew more than 5,000 demonstrators who peacefully protested in multiple groups around the city the entire day. Newsham said there were zero arrests yesterday, no DC officers were injured, and no DC Police property was damaged.
Newsham said to expect an extremely large turnout of demonstrators this Saturday; he expects the protests will continue in a peaceful manner. He didn’t have an estimation of how much longer protests would last in the city, saying, “There’s a lot of understandable passion around this movement, rightfully so. I think passion drives how long this might last.”
Both Newsham and DC mayor Muriel Bowser expressed concern and dismay that federal forces extended their presence near the White House yesterday, putting up barriers as far north as H Street. Bowser said she had discussions with federal entities about jurisdiction lines yesterday, reinforcing that DC streets should remain under the jurisdiction of DC Police.
As of this morning, White House barricades have been moved back to the edge of Lafayette Park. As the Park is a federal resource, Bowser said federal forces have the authority to block it off for safety purposes, but worries the blockage might become permanent – something she said she’ll push back on.
“[The White House is] the people’s house,” she said. “It’s a sad commentary that the House and its inhabitants have to be walled off.”
Newsham said DC Police are managing city streets, and that federal forces are managing federal resources. Bowser said she will remain firm on keeping DC streets under the jurisdiction of DC Police, and that DC Police will remain under the command of Newsham, not Donald Trump. Bowser said that Attorney General William Barr is commanding federal assets in the District.
Mayor Bowser implored reporters to call attention to the need for DC statehood, given the current response by federal authorities.
“Until we fix that, we’re subject to the whims of the federal government,” she said. “Sometimes they’re benevolent, sometimes they’re not. So we have to fix that.”