The events that occurred on January 6, 2021 make it particularly clear that Washington D.C. needs to become the 51st state of our union. On January 6, insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol rejecting the results of the Presidential election, and resulting in the deaths of five people, including one member of the Capitol Police. The D.C. Metropolitan Police were the first to respond to the scene under a standing agreement between the Capitol Police and D.C., but because D.C. is not a State, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser did not have the authority vested in that of a state governor to immediately call the D.C. National Guard to the scene.
The D.C. National Guard is uniquely controlled by the federal government, and their deployment requires authorization from the Department of Defense. Mayor Bowser’s initial requests to deploy the D.C. National Guard to support the Capitol Police were denied by the Department of Defense. Requests from Governor Hogan of Maryland to send the National Guard into the federal District of Columbia also required federal authorization and were repeatedly denied. Governor Hogan’s request was approved over 90 minutes after the initial denial, at which point requests from NY Governor Cuomo and Virginia Governor Northam to send the National Guard into the federal District of Columbia were also approved.
Mayor Bowser called for the Guard before 2 PM on January 6th, but they did not arrive at the Capitol until after 5 PM. If DC were a state, as governor she would have been able to mobilize them immediately. While the Guard would still have needed permission to move onto federal lands around the Capitol, there would have been much less delay.
The League of Women Voters of D.C. notes that it was the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and eventually the D.C. National Guard that first provided the back-up requested by the U.S. Capitol Police to support and protect democracy–a democracy in which the residents of the district have no vote on the floor of the House and not even a voice in the Senate. It is past time to grant statehood to the 700,000+ residents of D.C.!
The League of Women Voters of Tompkins County asks our residents to support D.C. Statehood. One way to do this is to take action for D.C. Statehood at the website LWV.org. The League of Women Voters has always fought for equality in our citizen-led democracy, and we believe that ensuring equal rights under the law for ALL citizens is an important step in making our democracy stronger and more inclusive.