Bowser Talks Pro-Trump Demonstrations

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DC Police Chief Contee speaks during the Jan. 4 situational update. Screenshot: Facebook Live.

In the Jan. 4 situational update, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), Police Chief Robert Contee addressed the planned first amendment activity later this week and encouraged DC residents to steer clear of individuals “coming here to look for confrontation.” According to the Mayor’s office, demonstrations are expected Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Congress will meet Wednesday to certify the victory of Democrat President-Elect Joe Biden (D) over Donald Trump (R) in the 2020 Presidential election. No less than five separate events are planned in the District between Jan. 5 and 7 by Trump’s supporters, who protest Trump’s loss. Those claims have repeatedly been defeated in courts. The last pro-Trump demonstrations in early December resulted in 33 arrests and at least four stabbings.

Bowser discouraged District residents from travelling downtown, or from attending counter-protests. “As our nation’s capital, we have a lot of experience with people coming here for protests,” Bowser said. “We are urging DC residents and people in the surrounding area to avoid the downtown area.” 

DC Police Chief Robert Contee said that DC laws will be strictly enforced during these protests and that all violators will be arrested. Contee emphasized that the DC law states that it is illegal to carry a firearm within 1,000 feet of first amendment activity and on the grounds of the Capitol, Freedom Plaza, the Ellipse and the National Mall. DC law also prohibits open carry of all firearms. 

Contee said that in addition to the MPD’s full activation, the National Guard will also be present throughout the planned demonstrations. They will not carry firearms and are expected to assist with crowd membership in order to free up MPD officers for law enforcement.

There are also several parking restrictions that will be implemented in preparation for the demonstrations.  

Contee said closing Black Lives Matter Plaza is a “very real possibility” this week given the proposed first amendment activity. Echoing Bowser, he encouraged residents to stay home to avoid the demonstrations and COVID-19 risk of being in large groups. 

A comprehensive list of traffic adjustments and street closures in effect Tuesday, January 5, and Wednesday, January 6 can be found at https://mpdc.dc.gov/release/traffic-advisory-first-amendment-activity-Jan5.

Sarah Payne is a History and Neuroscience student at The University of Michigan interning with HillRag. She writes for and serves as an assistant news editor for Michigan’s student newspaper, The Michigan Daily. You can reach her at [email protected]