Attorney General William Barr has deployed federal riot teams to Washington, D.C., and Miami in an attempt to quell violent clashes between protesters and police.
Riot teams are being sent from the federal Bureau of Prisons, while the FBI also has directed its elite Hostage Rescue Unit to help in D.C., a senior Justice Department official said Monday.
A weekend of rioting in the nation’s capital left deep scars in the shadow of the White House and across the city where 88 people have been arrested, while dozens of law enforcement officers, including Secret Service agents were injured. The federal prison riot team arrived in Miami Sunday.
The smoldering aftermath, resembling ugly scenes in cities across the country following the killing of George Floyd, yielded smashed storefronts, heaps of shattered glass and iconic national monuments stained by graffiti.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a curfew Monday beginning at 7 p.m. and continuing for two days. She said significant damage was done around the White House on Sunday and she spent the morning assessing it. She supported peaceful protests of the death of George Floyd, but said that violence cannot be allowed.
“There is significant damage in the downtown areas, especially in the blocks immediately around Lafayette Square,” Bowser said. “Smashed windows and looting are becoming a bigger story than the broken system that got here.”
Police Chief Peter Newsham said 44 of the 88 people arrested overnight Sunday were charged with felony rioting.
“We’ve seen rioting,” Newsham said. “We’ve seen significant property damages.”
Newsham said looting extended beyond the city center to Georgetown, a popular restaurant and shopping district.
“The looting was expansive,” he said.
Newsham said more arrests are expected, as police gather more information from business owners and from closed-circuit television recordings downtown.
Most of the people arrested so far were from the D.C. region, but he said that didn’t rule out a potential organized criminal enterprise behind the violence.
“I anticipate there will be more arrests,” Newsham said, also warning that curfew violations will be strictly enforced.
“That is a warning,” the chief said.
Bowser said she visited St. John’s church Monday to inspect the fire damage, which she said wasn’t in the main sanctuary, but in a room that appeared to be a nursery.
“I was quite angry at the destruction and the arson,” said Bowser, who called it “intolerable.” “That does not advance the cause of the protesters.”
© 2020 USA Today
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.