Jan 6, 2021
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser Press Conference on Capitol Protests Transcript January 6
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser held a press conference on January 6 to address the violent protests at the Capitol. She discussed a citywide curfew “beginning at 6:00 PM this evening, going until 6:00 AM tomorrow morning.” Read the transcript of the briefing here.
Muriel Bowser: (00:04)
Good afternoon. I’m Muriel Bowser. I’m the mayor of Washington DC. I am here at the headquarters of DC’s Metropolitan Police Department, where we are operating our emergency command center. I’m joined by the district’s Chief of Police, Robert Contee. I’m joined by members of my public safety team. I’m also joined by the Secretary of the Army, Mr. McCarthy.
Muriel Bowser: (00:29)
This afternoon, I announced a citywide curfew for the District of Columbia, beginning at 6:00 PM this evening, going until 6:00 AM tomorrow morning. During the curfew, no one is allowed to be outside in public places other than essential workers, which includes credentialed media engaging in essential functions.
Muriel Bowser: (00:53)
As you can see from a video images, the unlawful behavior inside the United States Capitol Building. I continue to urge our Washingtonians to stay home and stay calm. If you see something, say something. But above all, stay home. The behavior that we are witnessing is shameful, unpatriotic, and above all, it is unlawful.
Muriel Bowser: (01:20)
Anyone who has engaged in these activities, continues to engage in these activities, will be held accountable. There will be law and order and this behavior will not be tolerated. The Metropolitan Police Department has been deployed to assist the United States Capitol Police in restoring order to the Capitol. Our Chief of Police will lead the command to clear the Capitol Building and establish a perimeter around the Capitol.
Muriel Bowser: (01:52)
I have requested both the Virginia State Police and the Maryland State Police to deploy officers. They have engaged immediately to deploy officers to the Metropolitan Police Department to help regain control of the United States Capitol. I have also invoked, several days ago, a standing mutual aid agreement with our surrounding jurisdictions. I want to thank them for deploying. Those jurisdictions include Arlington County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, as well as Baltimore City.
Muriel Bowser: (02:31)
We want to thank them for sending their officers in assisting us with public safety in the District, as well as the response to United States Capitol Building. Additionally, I want to acknowledge and thank the New Jersey State Police, who will also be assisting the Metropolitan Police Department.
Muriel Bowser: (02:53)
With that, I want to turn to Chief Contee for a situational update. Secretary of the Army will make comments and we will take brief questions.
Chief Contee: (03:05)
Thank you, Mayor. Good afternoon and thank you, Mayor Bowser. My name is Robert J Contee, III. I am the Chief of the Police of the Metropolitan Police Department here in Washington, DC. As you are aware, demonstrators came to our city this morning to exercise their First Amendment rights and were largely concentrated in the area of the National Mall.
Chief Contee: (03:24)
Following the President’s remarks, a large crowd began to March eastbound on Madison Avenue Northwest and Constitution Avenue Northwest. As the demonstrators approached the United States Capitol grounds, there was a noticeable change in their demeanor. They breached the fencing along the US Capitol grounds and confronted police lines surrounding the building. MPD was requested by the United States Capitol Police to provide assistance with crowd management and due to the violent behavior towards the police officers there and their intent on gaining access to the Capitol, a riot was declared.
Chief Contee: (04:01)
It was clear that the crowd was intent on causing harm to our officers by deploying chemical irritants on police to force entry into the United States Capitol building. As you are aware, they were able to gain access to the Capitol Building. I can confirm that one civilian was reported to have sustained a gunshot wound inside of the Capitol. Details of the shooting are not immediately available. The situation remains under investigation. The Metropolitan Police Department will be taking the lead on that investigation.
Chief Contee: (04:33)
MPD continues to provide personnel resources and assistance on the grounds of the US Capitol and has requested the assistance of law enforcement partners through a previously in place mutual aid agreement. As you heard from the mayor, a 6:00 PM curfew has been put in place tonight and will be in effect until 6:00 AM tomorrow, January 7th. We are advising everyone, everyone that is not engaged in essential activity to get off the streets and adhere to the curfew. If you are found to be in violation of the curfew, police will be required to take action.
Chief Contee: (05:09)
Again, I want to reiterate and make it clear, please abide by the curfew that the mayor has set in place or people will be subject to arrest. Lastly, I know that many of you are familiar with the Metropolitan Police Department. Understand that there is no better agency in the country to handle First Amendment events. They happen on a regular basis here in our city. However today’s events were not representation of peaceful protests. Today, what we witnessed was unlawful, riotous behavior and people that come to our city engaged in unlawful behavior will be held accountable. We can take any questions that you may have after the secretary has a chance to speak.
Secretary McCarthy: (05:52)
Thank you, Mayor Bowser, Chief Contee. At around 3:00 this afternoon, we mobilized the DC National Guard to 100% strength. We’ll have 1100 personnel that are convening to the armory as we speak to support Metro PD in re-establishing the safety in the confines of the US Capitol. We will also be working with other federal law enforcement entities that are going to be coming here to the Metropolitan Police Station to add additional support and capability as they continue deliberate planning and looking at how a clearing operation will be conducted. Thank you.
Muriel Bowser: (06:26)
How does this work, this phone?
Speaker 4: (06:33)
Take questions on the phone. [inaudible 00:06:33] the questions. And if you want to say his name.
Muriel Bowser: (06:36)
Yeah. Hi, Mayor and Chief Contee. Could you please speak to the confusion surrounding the deployment of the National Guard? We understand that the council put out a statement saying that originally the Department of Defense refused to allow the DC Guard to reinforce Capitol Police Officers at the Capitol. Can you clarify what happened there?
Muriel Bowser: (06:58)
I’m not sure what statement you’re referring to Evan, but let me be clear. I requested Guard assistance, I guess, two or three days ago in supporting the DC government’s operations, the Metropolitan Police Department traffic box. That request was approved by the Secretary of the Army. Additionally, as I understand it, and I’ll turn to the secretary to speak to this directly, the United States Capitol Police Department requested additional Guard support today. Let me go to the secretary.
Secretary McCarthy: (07:36)
Hi, this is Ryan McCarthy. When we were working through the additional requests, there was … Sorry. Confused by that. There was additional requests that came forward from the Capitol Police. For us to truly understand the specifics behind their request and how we would support the operations, a lot of questions were asked, a little bit of confusion. But as we worked through it, we ultimately made the determination about a half hour later to mobilize the entire DC National Guard. This has been incredibly fluid, but I have to go through the Secretary of Defense, ultimately, to get the final approval to mobilize personnel as well as to conduct operations in cooperation and coordination with the local authorities.
Speaker 4: (08:21)
Muriel Bowser: (08:28)
Speaker 4: (08:29)
One more time.
Muriel Bowser: (08:29)
The city-wide curfew, Mayor, that can’t apply to Federal property. Correct?
Muriel Bowser: (08:37)
The curfew applies across the city. We will, if your question is, are people who are on the Capitol grounds subject to the curfew, they’re going to be subject [crosstalk 00:08:48] to following the lawful orders of police on the grounds. They will be ordered to evacuate the Capitol grounds. Next question?
Muriel Bowser: (09:00)
By the police.
Speaker 4: (09:05)
Next question, Mayor, Nick from the AP.
Muriel Bowser: (09:13)
Nick from the AP. Nick?
Hi Mayor. Maybe you are [inaudible 00:09:19] talkative to address this, but is MPD planning to enter the Capitol itself? Obviously we see the FBI in there at this point. Can someone give us an update on whether any MPD officers have been injured?
Muriel Bowser: (09:31)
We won’t discuss the specifics of the deployment. But I will say that the MPD and all of the law enforcement partners who will be active, will clear the Capitol and establish a perimeter in order to do that. What was your second question? Chief?
Chief Contee: (09:56)
We have reports about that. There are several MPD officers that are injured. But these officers are being tended to and still engaged in the fight to regain control of the Capitol. Although they are injured, they are still working and they’re working very hard to regain control of the Capitol.
Speaker 4: (10:14)
Bennett from the Washington Post.
Muriel Bowser: (10:15)
Speaker 4: (10:24)
One more time, [inaudible 00:10:26]
Muriel Bowser: (10:25)
Hi, can you hear me now?
Muriel Bowser: (10:27)
Yeah. What was MPD’s role ever supposed to be inside the U S Capitol? At what point did you offer additional assistance? Then for the woman who was shot inside the Capitol, was it a Capitol Police Officer who shot her and is she still alive?
Muriel Bowser: (10:46)
Can you repeat the first part of your question Bennett?
What was MPD’s role originally supposed to be in policing situation at the Capitol? Because the common question we’ve been getting is why didn’t we see more DC Police around there?
Muriel Bowser: (11:01)
Okay, sure. Let me have the chief respond.
Chief Contee: (11:04)
Sure. MPD’s role, we did not have a role specifically inside of the Capitol. The Capitol Police has a police department and they were responsible for the deployment of resources around the Capitol. We were responsible for all things in Washington, DC, to include our communities and areas outside of here. We have been assisting United States Park Police, as well as United States Capitol Police. Our role inside was escalated once the request was made by US Capitol Police for MPD to enter onto [inaudible 00:11:42] Police territory, to assist them with helping to [inaudible 00:11:45]
When was that request made?
Chief Contee: (11:53)
Several hours ago. It was at the point where protesters began to breach the [inaudible 00:11:59]
Is woman who was shot at the Capitol, was she stopped by law enforcement? Is she still alive?
Muriel Bowser: (12:12)
Bennett, as the chief said, that incident is under investigation, and we don’t have anything else to provide at this time.
Speaker 4: (12:21)
Muriel Bowser: (12:24)
Sam Ford? Sam?
Sam Ford: (12:26)
Yes Mayor. Question for the chief. You talked about riotous behavior. Was that limited to the Capitol, or are there other areas where he’s talking about this? Then the suburban departments, exactly what role are they going to play in this?
Chief Contee: (12:44)
The riotous behavior, the only riotous behavior that we have encountered is at the Capitol inside of the Capitol. Obviously when the demonstrators-turn-rioters entered the Capitol, crossed the police line, they’ve assaulted a number of police officers with all kinds of projectiles, et cetera. That’s when the Metropolitan Police Department later on was called to assist. With respect to the outside jurisdictions, the outside jurisdiction role, they will be under my command, under my authority. They will be deployed to assist us with the clearing operation that will be going on right now.
Sam Ford: (13:25)
Is there any problem-
Muriel Bowser: (13:29)
Was there anybody … I’m sorry. I didn’t understand your question.
Sam Ford: (13:38)
[inaudible 00:13:38] what is the situation there?
Muriel Bowser: (13:40)
Well, Sam, we have a curfew at 6:00 PM. We have [inaudible 00:13:43] with. The Metro will be available. A lot of people rode the Metro and the Metro was closed at 8:00 PM. They should be making their way to leave right now.
Sam Ford: (14:16)
Muriel Bowser: (14:16)
Sam [inaudible 00:14:04].
Sam Ford: (14:17)
[inaudible 00:14:17] have been arrested and how many firearms have [inaudible 00:14:16]?
Muriel Bowser: (14:17)
Sam, I think that we can give you a clear update through last night. We will get another update on the rest in a conversation by the end of this evening. Chief may want to highlight a few.
Chief Contee: (14:32)
As of earlier, there were approximately five weapons that have been recovered. We were looking just above 13 arrests. I should add, a very important note here, that none of the arrests that occurred were of DC residents. All of the individuals who were arrested were from out of the area. The most immediate area, we had three people that were from Maryland. But the majority of the arrests were from people outside of the District of Columbia. A number of firearms have been recovered by the Metropolitan Police Department’s gun recovery unit, to include long guns have been recovered, as well as hand guns.
Speaker 4: (15:09)
Final from Martin, WAMU.
Muriel Bowser: (15:11)
Okay. Last question, Martin WAMU.
Hey Mayor. Thanks for taking the question. I got two quick ones. How would the situation with your request for additional National Guard assistance have changed if you had actual authority over the Guard? Because we know you have to put the request in through the Federal government. It’s not like you request it directly. Then the last question for Chief Contee, when you guys are going to go through the Capitol clearing and you find protestors, is the idea that you arrest them and charge them with something. Are you just going to take them outside and let them on their way? What’s the plan for actually finding people in the Capitol?
Muriel Bowser: (15:47)
Again, Martin, I don’t think that we’re prepared to talk about specifics, about deployment and strategy at this stage. What we just need to make sure that everybody knows is that they need to clear the Capitol grounds. They need to remove themselves back to wherever they’re staying or back to their home states and let the police do their jobs.
Muriel Bowser: (16:07)
On the question of the control of the National Guard, I think you know very well that every governor in America has control of its Guard. In the district is different in that we make a request to the Secretary of the Army. Over the many months, the Secretary of the Army and I know how to communicate so that we can have that request approved just as soon as possible.
Muriel Bowser: (16:36)
Thank you everybody.