WASHINGTON — The attorney general for Washington, D.C., pressed the Trump administration and several state governments Thursday to justify the legality of their decision to send a growing contingent of National Guard troops to the nation’s capital in the wake of street protests.
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said in letters sent Thursday that he was “reviewing the legality of aspects of the federal government’s response to the George Floyd protests in the city.”
In letters sent to Attorney General William Barr, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Racine said the district’s government “has received very little information about the legal basis for these entities’ presence.”
In all of the letters, Racine asked the federal and state authorities to explain the legal authority for the deployments, the troops’ mission and whether they have been given the authority to make arrests.
On Tuesday, the day after U.S. Park Police and other federal law enforcement swept protesters away from the White House with pepper projectiles and aggressive force, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser decried President Donald Trump’s boast that his use of guardsmen in the capital would “dominate the streets.”
“I don’t think that the military should be used on the streets of American cities against Americans,” Bowser said. “And I definitely think it shouldn’t be used for a show.”
At least 5,000 Guard members were initially activated last weekend, the National Guard Bureau reported at the time, and hundreds more troops have been deployed to the district over the past several days. The troops have been used for security at the White House and at federal monuments and installations across the district.
National Guard troops were sent by Indiana, New Jersey, Maryland, South Carolina, Missouri, Florida, Tennessee and Utah. Racine sent letters to governors of all of those states, along with other states that were reportedly asked to send troops: New York, Virginia, Delaware, Illinois and Pennsylvania.