DC mayor pleads with US attorney to ramp up prosecutions of violent protesters
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser is pleading with the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to ramp up prosecutions of those arrested by police for violence at protests, saying she is “dismayed” that prosecutors aren’t bringing cases.
“MPD does their part to protect residents and visitors,” Bowser tweeted. “We need our prosecutors to do theirs.”
In a letter to Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin, Bowser expressed support for peaceful protests but said “it is critical that when these violent offenders are taken into custody, their cases are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
She claimed that Sherwin’s office “declined to prosecute 41 of the 42 rioting arrests made on August 13 and 14.” She said that since May 20, the police department has submitted 63 affidavits for arrest and search warrants related to protest violence but 28 warrants were declined and 24 are still pending.
“When violent criminals are not held accountable for setting fires, and destroying and vandalizing property, they are emboldened to escalate their criminal activity,” Bowser said, emphasizing assaults on police officers.
Sherwin’s office pushed back at Bowser’s criticism on Monday, saying in a statement, “Since the protests began, this office has never turned down a single case for prosecution in which there was sufficient evidence to support probable cause.”
“Specifically, with regard to the spike in protest-related violence throughout the District this summer, the Office aggressively charged 121 criminal cases from May 28, 2020 to August 1, 2020,” the statement said. “These cases included assault and battery on local police officers and federal agents, arson cases, and the destruction of both private and government property. Most recently, over this past weekend alone, the office brought criminal charges against five individuals linked to protest-related violence – two of those cases involved assaults on police officers.”
Referencing this weekend’s violence in D.C., Bowser said the police department made 19 arrests, including 14 for “felony rioting.”
“The rioters damaged more property and injured more officers. I am told that prosecuting decisions in these cases are still pending. Given the stakes or demonstrations seeking to protest peacefully and our officers who are being assaulted while seeking to preserve the peace, I again urge you in the strongest possible terms to move forward with these cases,” she said.
Protesters were in Washington over the weekend for the 57th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.
But violent clashes also erupted in the nation’s capital between protesters and police especially after the conclusion of the Republican National Convention on Thursday night outside the White House.
The protests started as a “noise demonstration and dance party” and seemed to intensify as the night continued. Videos emerged on social media that appeared to show city police clashing with protesters throughout city streets.
Protesters yelled and threw water bottles at police at the historic St. John’s Church, which is near Black Lives Matter Plaza. Police made a string of arrests.
Video on social media also showed a crowd chasing and jeering Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, who was escorted by police as he returned to his hotel. An officer was captured on video being shoved by a protester and was nearly knocked over. Paul appeared to help steady the officer.
He would later thank the police for saving him from a “crazed mob.”
Fox News’ Firdausa Stover and David Aaro contributed to this report.