One day after Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser requested President Donald Trump remove additional law enforcement and out-of-city National Guard, she joined thousands of protesters on the streets of the nation’s capital on Saturday.
“We should all be watching what’s happening in Washington, DC, because we don’t want the federal government to do this to any other Americans,” Bowser said while walking through downtown DC with protesters.
At least tens of thousands, it is estimated, participated in a series of peaceful protests across the District Saturday. The Metropolitan Police Department estimated there were at least 6,000 protesters at several locations as of noon, which was before any major events began. Several different protests scattered across the city later in the day drew major crowds. A spokeswoman for the department told CNN there had been no arrests.
Bowser had a pointed political message for the President, tweeting on Saturday, “In November, we say ‘next,'” with a picture of her addressing a crowd on Saturday.
Bowser and Trump in the last few days have been involved in a spat over the increased military presence in DC. The mayor has made clear that she wants out-of-state military troops out of the nation’s capital.
In a Friday letter to the President, Bowser argued that the additional law enforcement are “inflaming” and “adding to the grievances” of people protesting over the police killing of George Floyd.
“The protestors have been peaceful, and last night, the Metropolitan Police Department did not make a single arrest. Therefore, I am requesting that you withdraw all extraordinary law enforcement and military presence from Washington, DC,” Bowser wrote in the letter, adding that she had ended the state of emergency in DC related to the protests.
Trump took to Twitter in response on Friday, attacking the mayor as “incompetent,” claiming she was “fighting” with the Guard and warning that if she didn’t treat the service members “well” he would bring in a “different group of men and women.”
The President and Bowser have a history of butting heads. They disagreed over a costly military parade that was planned in 2018 and then eventually canceled, and then again in 2019 over changes in Fourth of July celebrations. Trump remains intent on holding an Independence Day celebration in Washington, DC, this year, even as the mayor has said a parade in the nation’s capital had been scrapped.
There is no curfew Saturday night in the district, according to a spokeswoman for Bowser. The last night there was a curfew in the District was Wednesday evening. A curfew was put into effect beginning Monday night after some confrontations and looting occurred alongside the protests Sunday evening.
On Friday, Bowser had the city paint “BLACK LIVES MATTER” in big yellow letters on two blocks of 16th Street, a central axis that leads southward straight to the White House.
Additionally, the mayor renamed the square in front of Lafayette Park, steps from the White House, “Black Lives Matter Plaza.”
The protests, which are now in their 12th day, have taken on much more meaning for black Americans, who have historically been disproportionately impacted by police brutality.
One protester, Philomena Wankenge, who is a Freedom Fighters DC board member and was out marching during the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday, told CNN’s Boris Sanchez that she was willing to die for this movement on behalf of her family’s future.
“I don’t care if I lose my life if that means my nieces and my nephews won’t have to deal with someone invalidating them because of the color of their skin,” Wankenge said.
“It sounds extreme and it might sound dramatic to people, but as a black person every day that I wake up I could die. Especially as a black woman dealing with sexism and dealing with racism I’m combating double the trouble,” she added.