Jan 17, 2021 - Politics & Policy

D.C. mayor says U.S. needs to take "domestic white extremism" seriously after Capitol siege

Bowser sits at a panel in front of a microphone, with an American flag behind her

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser with Acting Chief of D.C. police Robert Contee and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy at a Jan. 7 press briefing. Photo: John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser told "Meet the Press" on Sunday that the U.S. needs to take "domestic white extremism" more seriously in the wake of the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol.

Why it matters: Some rioters were seen displaying white supremacist symbols and references to extremist right-wing militias during the attack. The rally was attended in part by groups advocating white nationalism and anti-government sentiments, according to ABC News.

What she's saying: In response to anchor Chuck Todd's question on how long D.C. will be guarded like a fortress or "armed camp," Bowser countered: "I think the question is a bigger question, Chuck. It is how serious is our country going to take domestic white extremism?"

  • "And I think what we saw here last week is that we didn't take it seriously enough. We never believed that so-called patriots would attempt to overthrow their government and kill police officers, but that's exactly what happened."
  • "So I do think we have to take another posture in our city that is more domestic terrorist-focused and external to our country and enact accordingly."
  • Bowser added that fences and armed troops in the streets of D.C. should not be permanent, but "we do have to take a different posture."

The backdrop: The Department of Homeland Security said in its 2020 threat assessment that white supremacist extremists "remain the most persistent and lethal threat" in the U.S.

  • The Center for Strategic and International Studies said in a report published around the same time that white supremacist groups were responsible for 67% of "terrorist plots and attacks" in the first eight months of 2020, per the New York Times.

The state of play: The FBI is investigating hundreds of felony cases "tied to sedition and conspiracy" as a result of the Capitol breach, as well as assaults on police officers, potential theft of national security information, and felony murder.

  • But federal officials have not described individuals linked to the violence as terrorists.
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