Washington — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to President Trump on Thursday raising concerns about what she called the “militarization” of Washington, D.C., where thousands of National Guard troops and federal law enforcement officers have descended to quell protests over police brutality and the death of George Floyd.
“It is alarming that here in our nation’s capital, the thousands who have turned out peacefully have been confronted with the deployment of various security officers from multiple jurisdictions, including unidentified federal law enforcement personnel,” Pelosi said in her letter. The California Democrat raised concerns about soldiers stationed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and Bureau of Prisons officers posted in Lafayette Square, in addition to National Guard troops and FBI officials.
“We are concerned about the increased militarization and lack of clarity that may increase chaos. I am writing to request a full list of the agencies involved and clarifications of the roles and responsibilities of the troops and federal law enforcement resources operating in the city,” Pelosi said. “Congress and the American people need to know who is in charge, what is the chain of command, what is the mission, and by what authority is the National Guard from other states operating in the capital.”
On Monday, federal officers used tear gas and physically removed peaceful protesters outside the White House,shortly before Mr. Trump walked from the White House to a damaged historic church. Attorney General William Barr said officers were clearing the area to expand the perimeter around the White House after several violent confrontations over the weekend.
Democrats have alreadyabout unidentified, armed federal officers posted near the White House. A coalition of congressional Democrats to Barr on Thursday demanding details about the officers.
In her letter, Pelosi argued that refusing to identify certain officers “undermines accountability, ignites government distrust and suspicion, and is counter to the principle of procedural justice and legitimacy during this precarious moment in our nation’s history.”
“As peaceful people all over the country turn out to honor the memory of George Floyd and protest for change, we must ensure that their safety and their constitutional rights are being respected,” Pelosi said.
Mr. Trump has called for states and mayors to “dominate” the streets in response to mass protests. The president threatened on Monday toto jurisdictions which are unable to quell violence. He has also called himself the president of “law and order,” and repeated his support for officers multiple times on Twitter.