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DC mayor caught between activists, police in funding battle

WASHINGTON (AP) — Muriel Bowser’s national profile had never been higher, thanks to a Twitter beef with President Donald Trump and a renewed push to turn the nation's capital into the 51st state....

6/28/2020 3:45:00 PM

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser is caught between Black Lives Matter activists and police as the city budget becomes a battleground for the country’s debate on overhauling law enforcement. It's a dilemma faced by other big city mayors in the U.S.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Muriel Bowser ’s national profile had never been higher, thanks to a Twitter beef with President Donald Trump and a renewed push to turn the nation's capital into the 51st state....

. Now Washington’s mayor must pull off a public juggling act as the city budget becomes a battleground for the country’s debate on overhauling law enforcement.An activist collective led by Black Lives Matter is trying to capitalize on shifting public opinion, and the demands include major cuts in funding for the Metropolitan Police Department. The District of Columbia Council had indicated it would push for up to $15 million in cuts, but Bowser is defending her 2021 budget proposal, which includes a 3.3% increase in police money.

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ADVERTISEMENTWith conservatives painting her as a radical riot-supporter, Bowser must thread this needle with both Black Lives Matter and the White House watching her every move. It’s a similar dilemma to that faced by other urban mayors of protest hot spots who must balance competing pressures without alienating either the activists or the police. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti has faced criticism for not going far enough on law enforcement changes while the police union has called him “unstable.” In Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is dealing with mass police no-shows over her handling of police violence cases.

Bowser is also finding herself one of the public faces of Washington’s quest to be a state. The House of Representatives on Friday, voting largely along party lines, approved a bill to grant statehood. It was the first time a chamber of Congress had approved such a measure.

But there is insurmountable opposition in the GOP-controlled Senate, where Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., singled out Bowser out on Thursday as a reason that Washington cannot be trusted with statehood. He called her “a left wing politician … who frequently takes the side of rioters against law enforcement.”

Cotton lumped Bowser in with the late Marion Barry, a former mayor who was caught on video smoking crack cocaine in a 1990 FBI sting. Barry, who died in 2014, remains a beloved figure in many parts of the district and he emerged from federal prison to serve additional terms as both a mayor and a councilman. A

of the D.C. government administration building in 2018.ADVERTISEMENT“Would you trust Mayor Bowser to keep Washington safe if she were given the powers of a governor? Would you trust Marion Barry,” Cotton asked.Granting the predominantly Democratic city statehood would likely increase the party’s numbers in Congress.

In the early days of the protests, Bowser publicly sided with the demonstrators as Trump usurped local authority and called in a massive federal security response. Bowser responded by renaming the protest epicenter, within sight of the White House, as Black Lives Matter Plaza. She also commissioned a mural with Black Lives Matter painted on 16th Street across from the White House in yellow letters large enough to be seen from space.

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For Trump and his supporters, Bowser may as well have declared herself a dues-paying member of the movement’s local chapter. But that chapter didn’t feel the same, immediately dismissing it as “a performative distraction” from true policy changes.“It’s a stunt. It was always a stunt,” said activist Joella Roberts. “We don’t need a street sign to tell us we matter. We’re here in the streets because we already know we matter.”

April Goggans, a core organizer with Black Lives Matter DC, rejected Bowser’s moves as “taking advantage of national attention,” and added, “She would never even say the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ until recently.”Bowser acknowledged that mistrust even as she ordered the changes.

“Black Lives Matter is very critical of police. They’re critical of me,” Bowser said, not long after hanging the new street sign. “That doesn’t mean that I don’t see them and support the things that will make our community safe.”The street mural in particular became the subject of a cat-and-mouse game that underscores the complexities of Bowser’s position.

The original mural also bore a yellow outline of the D.C. flag — two horizontal lines topped by three stars. Within days, activists had erased the stars to create the appearance of an equal sign and added their own message, turning the mural into “Black Lives Matter=Defund The Police.”

Clearly not wanting to antagonize the street activists, Bowser’s government has allowed the “Defund the Police” addition to remain. But city crews did repaint the stars on the D.C. flag image.Now that struggle moves into the district’s decision-making corridors as Bowser finds herself caught between the D.C. Council, street pressure from a resurgent activist community and her own police department.

Relations between the City Council and the police are already fragile thanks to legislation that was quickly and unanimously passed on June 9. It prohibits police from using tear gas or riot gear to break up protests, bans the use of choke-holds, strengthens disciplinary procedures and speeds up the release of body camera footage and names of officers involved in fatal shootings.

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Both Bowser and the police chief, Peter Newsham, were critical of the move, saying lawmakers reacted rashly to public pressure and did not consider enough input before passing the measure. A local TV station obtained a recording of Newsham telling fellow officers that the department felt “completely abandoned” by the D.C. Council.

A new showdown is looming over the 2021 budget. Council member Charles Allen, head of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, said the committee received 15,000 calls, messages and video testimonials before a budget hearing this month — an exponential increase in interest from previous years. A draft report from the committee reportedly includes up to $15 million in proposed cuts to the police budget.

Bowser on Thursday said that she hadn’t read the police funding proposal yet and would wait until the Council formally submitted its proposed changes to her. She insisted that her 3.3% increase — bringing the total police budget up to $533 million — was the correct assessment of what was needed to keep the city safe.

“We sent them the budget that we need,” she said.Goggans, the local Black Lives Matter organizer, dismissed the budget dispute as a facade, saying that the proposed cuts amount to far less than they seem.“There’s not a compromise to made on our side. That just can’t happen,” Goggans said. “We’re going to keep putting up a massive amount of pressure and escalating our tactics and intensity.”

Read more: The Associated Press »

DC would be a violent state. Did Trump ever pay the garbage bill from laying off Park workers, etc.? I don't feel bad for her. Time and again these mayor's and governors stood by and watched their cities get burned, looted, leashed the police and fired/charged any that tried to do their job, people on both sides injured or killed all the while giving Trump the middle finger.

_Politics Bowser is a 'bower'. She needs to fulfill her duty to the citizens who elected her and stand up to the BLM bullies and tell she is running the city and not them! _Politics All problem have solution. This is no different. Yes, let’s defund the police and let the vigilantes and militias run the place. It’s a frightening thought for criminals and honest citizens alike

I don't feel sorry for her She’s a racist It's hard to establish whether, or not this is an editorial perspective..It's ridiculous in both structure and analysis not only to link DC Police budget to other states' budgetary constructs, but place differences in political opinions over national interest This woman wants to be a governor or member of Congress so bad! Just fund the police and stop the drama!

She needs to back her tax paying voting citizen, BLM don’t even live there and all the angry white kids would go home if their parents stop paying for their HATE tour LEAN RIGHT, REACH LEFT. HELP US ALL! MURIEL, YOU ARE THE FIRST MAYOR TO AVOW CONCERNS FOR BOTH SIDES! BUT CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR IS ABHORRENT! AND WITHOUT THE BLUE OVERRUNS ALL SENSIBILITIES OF SAFETY REGARDLESS OF THE BENT! I KNOW IT IS TOUGH TO STAND TALL! PLEASE SUPPORT THE BLUE! AT THE SAME TIME, ACCOUNTABILITY!

Foundational failed deep blue government Democrats are weak and pathetic The hypocrisy of the white man, the cat is sad for the mouse! No way DC can become a state. Elected leadership has always been pathetic (Raymondberry anyone?) and they can’t even protect our national treasures Crystal ball time. A few cities will defund, if not entirely disband police, and the nobles will hire private security paid by the rabble

Big city mayors, mostly Democrats, are calling for police reforms. Don’t they realize they are the chief law-enforcement officials in their cities and they could have made whatever changes they wanted years ago? Hypoctites DoubleStandards VoteThemOut DEAR MURIEL, I KNOW AS A BLACK WOMAN THIS IS HARDER FOR YOU. AS HAMLET SAID 'THE RUB'. BUT IMPLORE YOU TO NOT TURN YOUR BACK ON GOD, AND ACT ON WHAT YOU FEEL IN YOUR HEART! WHAT IS BEST FOR THE FUTURE OF ALL OUR CHILDREN WHO DID NOT ASK FOR THIS! GOD BLESS. BE WELL.

This is primarily Democratic mayors who lack the fortitude to lead MobRule LEFTY MEDIA trying to give cover to LEFTY CITIES, poor things, have no choice but hate the police... Democrats. Seems like a slam dunk to me DefundThePolice “Caught” As if she didn’t personally place herself right in the middle.

Did the Trump campaign ever reimburse the city? THERE IS NO BLACK OR WHITE HERE! AND DAMMIT NO PUN INTENDED! THE BLUE MAY AT TIMES BE FALLIBLE, BUT THE ALTERNATIVE IS RUINATION!!!!!!! The politic far right is trying make this ALL OR NOTHING proposition. IT'S NOT! Every city in America can cut some police budget to use on Parks&Recreation, YMCA & BoysClubs, etc. & still have viable, effective policing. When right wing controls narrative, everything all/nothing.

First order of business is taking back the Old Post Office when I become the Governor Of Washington D.C. She already chose BLM, she will pay the consequences for it Police don’t need the budget’s they get. You can have social service funding and appropriately funded police departments. Budgeting is the primary duty of running a local government. If she can’t do that, why is she here?

She is failed under performing Mayor. There is no credibility left for her. Unable to protect others and being utterly incompetent is not good. She failed to protect life and allowed looters, anarchists and thugs to mob rule. No Law and Order just confusion. She is weak. Enjoy federal troops in your city.

the debate state authorized criminals or non state authorized criminals one has a union the other doesn't hmmm non union is easier to prosecute Caught between the DC city police who serve and protect the community OR the violent destructive Marxist’s who mostly look non black? If this is a hard choice for the mayor she should excuse herself from being mayor.

Even Though We Seem Different To Each Other, We Bleed, We Bleed, The Same Color: song tribute to George Floyd: She endorsed Mike Bloomberg. This may inform what side she will pick. There is a whole lot of negotiating room between making needed changes and No Police. There are no better examples of today’s dictatorship DEMOCRAT Party than what we’re seeing play out everywhere that Democrats rule. Folks, this party left YOU a long time ago.

I truly do not see how this is an issue. The right decision is maintaining law and order. Make necessary changes. Support your police. Train and love them. The mob rule is the worst rule. The Democratic Party to White women...we know you’ve been a big part of us for a long time....we know you’re nothing but racist scum who’s every achievement has been because of white privledge..but come Nov we know we can count on you..we got your back!

Remember, you pledge to keep your citizens safe For real? Politicians always are 'caught' between interest groups. The only difference is, normally money dictates the outcome in backwardsusa and blm have power but no money. It's not a hard decision. Back your police or step down so someone competent can take the role.

she’s not “caught”. she’s not the victim. she put herself squarely there and chose her side Only Democrat mayors. yeah, kinda like we've saying for the last 7 years? you idiots are digging your hole deeper. So the problem is the democrat mayors are being held hostage by communist BLM? EnemyOfThePeople meanwhile the poor will suffer so corrupt Mayer can stay in power

Time for white lives to quit work, stay home, live on welfare, and let black lives work and pay taxes. Minneapolis Council votes to reduce Police activities and then hires body guards at taxpayer expense to protect them. 'Animal Farm' rings out. DEFUNDDC I don’t see what the problem is.....the neighborhoods that don’t want any police give them EXACTLY what they want....the ones that want it keep them.....will make for some great TV

Really, they run the police forces and should be held accountable if they fail their constituents. Actions will determine who they believe is essential to keep their jobs - hehe Don't worry about the budget. You have the world stage. Will DC become a state? Push that agenda and just let your cesspool take care of itself.

Excellent!! A mess created by her own volition! She put herself in the middle. Frankly there should be no middle in this situation. Just open your eyes and minds. What’s the debate. Cops over criminals. Done. Hipocracy of Running with Hares and Hunting with Hounds. One side will never accept where she is willing to go as good enough. Another side will accept. For most people, that would make picking a side easy.

It's a dilemma? Who elected BLM? Oh man, that's a hard one...protect her city, or let domestic terrorist do as they please. She'll have to think long and hard on that one since she's not that smart. 🙄 It's a dilemma faced when you capitulate to terrorists. ReThink Police funding! Get them out of Judge Dredd swat military gear.

The major is a weak politician, not a leader Don’t let BLM run your budget. Support the police as you were voted into office to do. Americans need safety and security. Not disorder and chaos. Move out of cities controlled by Democrats. BLM only matters when the perp is white (rare). Blacks killing blacks? Yawn. No one cares.

DefundThePolice DefundThePentagon Hey, news readers do follow our account to stay motivated and inspired.

House passes bill to make Washington DC the 51st stateRepublicans in the Senate and White House oppose making Washington, D.C., the 51st state and giving its residents two senators. Right now? This is what we are doing right now? Good to see where their priorities lie Ugh. I like Puerto Rico better.

Q&A: How Washington, D.C., Would Become a StateThe House is voting today on a proposal to make the District of Columbia a state. Under the bill, most of present-day Washington, D.C., would take the name State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, in honor of Frederick Douglass. DC was always a state... The Democrats know How 2 steal a Presidential election but they shouldn't get statehood, right ? It is a majority black area == they need the 'gentle guiding hand' of the old white men in Congress, right? how soon can we expect your editorial on this situation?

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House Passes Bill That Would Admit Washington, D.C., as 51st StateA bill to admit Washington, D.C., as the 51st state passed the House but will likely go no further this year, after the idea found fresh urgency when federal personnel clashed with protesters on the city’s streets earlier this month. They're after those senate seats. This is show. It requires a Constitutional amendment because the Founders explicitly wanted DC to not be part of any state. Anyone who lives there and doesn't like it can feel free to move 5 miles up the road.

House approves Washington, D.C., statehood in historic voteFour decades after launching its drive for U.S. statehood, Washington, D.C., was poised to take a step toward becoming the 51st state as the House of Representatives on Friday approved its admission. Already in state Another shinny object 🙄 how about health care for all? Of freeze rent?

Trump Is Still Running Against The City And Idea Of Washington, D.C.Candidates for president and Congress have long found running against Washington one of the surest ways to get there. But now, the candidate running most vehemently against Washington is also its most prominent resident. you mean a president trying to destroy the country and serve his master Russia? Lazy Trump is running against Washington, the U.S. Military and the majority of American citizens.