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Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser downplayed instances of rioting amid protests in the district over George Floyd’s death last summer, during a tense exchange with Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., at a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
In a hearing on Washington, D.C’s proposed statehood., Johnson pressed Bowser to provide a figure in estimated property damage in D.C. that occurred during what he described as the “summer rioting” last year.
“I know that we had one night of rioting in the district in the summer,” Bowser said. She added that Washington had “dozens of people arrested over the last year.”
Johnson continued with his line of questioning in an attempt to draw a parallel between law enforcement’s response to last summer’s protests and the response to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. He asked Bowser if authorities under her jurisdiction used geolocation tools to find and arrest people who participated in violent behavior last summer.
In early June of last year, Bowser instituted a curfew that remained in place for several days in a bid to curb violence and property damage. More than 400 people were arrested in the first two weeks after the protests began last summer, mostly for curfew violations, looting or property damage, the Washington Post reported.
“We do not and will not allow the continued destruction of our hometown by people who are coming here to protest or by D.C. residents,” Bowser said when first announcing the curfew.
Isolated instances of violence and rioting continued throughout the summer. The Metropolitan Police Department tweeted on Aug. 13, 2020, that it had arrested 41 people for felony rioting and assault following overnight property destruction and arson.
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In late August 2020, D.C. authorities made more than two dozen more arrests in connection with violent clashes between police and protesters. At the time, Bowser said outside “agitators” were responsible for the violence.
“I can speak for the Metropolitan Police Department,” Bowser said. “We do not permit any riotous behavior, whoever is conducting it, and we have made arrests in both cases – in cases where we had riotous behavior, and that is a specific behavior, here on the Congress’ grounds and on city streets.”
Washington, D.C., and other major U.S. cities experienced months of protests following Floyd’s death last May. In some cases, there was rioting and looting.
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