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House GOP Demands DC Mayor Address GWU Protests

Holland McKinnie
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House Republican leaders are pressing Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) for a detailed explanation of her administration’s inaction in handling the ongoing lawless protest encampment at George Washington University. The demonstration, characterized by House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) and House Education and Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) as “radical, antisemitic and unlawful,” has persisted unaddressed for several days.

According to Reps. Comer and Foxx, the refusal by D.C. police to aid university officials in clearing the encampment raises serious concerns about the safety of the university’s Jewish students, who they claim are facing persecution and harassment. “It is deeply disturbing that while GWU has attempted to take concrete measures to protect the safety of its Jewish student body, it is hindered by the MPD’s refusal to provide assistance,” they stated in a Tuesday letter to Mayor Bowser and Pamela A. Smith, chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

As protests at GWU continue into their seventh day with no signs of abating, city leaders face escalating criticism for their perceived reluctance to enforce the law. The protest has significantly disrupted campus operations, prompting university officials to relocate law school finals to another building due to noise disturbances.

In their letter, Foxx and Comer questioned the conditions under which MPD would act to assist GWU in clearing the encampment and how the department’s inaction aligns with its mission to uphold “justice for all.” The lawmakers emphasized that the reluctance of the D.C. government and MPD to act is “out of sync” with responses from other local governments and police departments nationwide, which have intervened in similar situations at universities in other states.

Congress has legislative authority over the District of Columbia under power directly granted by the U.S. Constitution. The part of the nation’s charter that established the district as the seat of the federal government gave Congress authority to manage local law enforcement activities. The power of congressional oversight extends to ensuring adequate police protection in public crises inside the district. The current situation at GWU clearly qualifies as a matter deserving an appropriate police interaction.

Given the jurisdictional challenges posed by D.C.’s status, the federal government, through Congress, can intervene in local governance if it deems the city’s actions — or lack thereof — inadequate in addressing public safety and order.