Mayor Muriel Bowser says Trump’s response to protests brought out more demonstrators

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JUNE 7, 2020

Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser is surrounded by clergy as she speaks during a vigil as protests continue on the streets near the White House over the death in police custody of George Floyd, in Washington, June 3, 2020. – Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President Donald Trump’s comments and federal response to the recent George Floyd protests encouraged more people to demonstrate this weekend, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“What (Trump) actually did — as you saw for the remaining days — was turn out more people and more people who were there for peaceful protests,” Bowser said Sunday.

Speaking from Washington, Bowser told Co-anchor Martha Raddatz, “What Americans saw was federal police forces tear gassing peaceful Americans, and how they responded made clear to the president that Americans would exercise their first amendment rights and they will do it peacefully.”

Protests that began in Minneapolis over Floyd’s death in police custody on Memorial Day expanded to cities around the world, with some in the U.S. turning violent and destructive. Governors in 32 states and Washington, D.C., have activated more than 32,400 members of the National Guard.

Throughout the week, tensions between the Washington mayor and President Donald Trump have grown over the federal response to the protests in the city. 

Police face off with demonstrators near the White House during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Washington, DC, on June 3, 2020. – Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

In a letter to the president on Thursday, Bowser asked Trump to “withdraw all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence from Washington, DC.” The mayor additionally reached out to several state governors requesting that they also remove their state National Guards from the district.

Trump has threatened to deploy active-duty troops on U.S. city streets, including those of D.C., to quell the unrest. His threats of an increased armed service presence within the country prompted several former high-profile military officials to publicly criticize the idea.

Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser is surrounded by clergy as she speaks during a vigil as protests continue on the streets near the White House over the death in police custody of George Floyd, in Washington, June 3, 2020. – Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Bowser responded to the president, in part, by ordering city workers to paint a pavement mural with the words “Black Lives Matter” along the blocks leading up to the White House. She also renamed the area, “Black Lives Matter Plaza.”

The president lashed out against the mayor on Twitter Friday, calling Bowser, “grossly incompetent.”

A street sign for the renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza is seen near St. John’s Episcopal Church, as the protests against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd continue, in Washington, June 5, 2020. – Carlos Barria/Reuters

By the end of the week, the protests were mostly peaceful. Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Washington but it looked more like a summer street festival, especially compared to earlier in the week.

Despite the mayor’s actions to challenge the federal response to the demonstrations, some protesters have remained unimpressed. The Black Lives Matter organization in Washington called the mural a “performative” gesture.

As the crowds dispersed Saturday in Washington, an addition to the city’s mural was revealed. Next to the, “Black Lives Matter” mural, protesters added “= Defund the Police” in yellow on 16th Street in front of the White House.

“Well, it’s not a part of the mural and we certainly encourage expression, but we are using the city streets in the city art,” Bowser said.

When pressed by Raddatz about whether the city would remove the protesters’ new addition to the mural, Bowser only said she hadn’t had the opportunity to review it.

This is a developing news story.


Courtesy/Source: ABC News