A Rally and a Parade, Deflated

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Usually, when the District of Columbia is referenced in the national media, it comes from television reporters planted on the White House lawn or in front of the Supreme Court.

Rarely are local stories big enough for the national media, and rarely are local officials, including Mayor Muriel Bowser, heard from or interviewed.

Over the past week or so, all that changed. The city got some much-deserved kudos for its handling of what was billed as a potentially disruptive and even violent gathering of white nationalists, the Unite the Right 2 rally in Lafayette Park on Sunday, Aug. 12.

In the days and weeks leading up to the rally, news reports predicted that thousands of demonstrators and anti-demonstrators would show up.

The reality, due to a diligent, efficient, but not overbearing D.C. police presence — plus an assist from the wet, rainy weather — turned out to be much ado about very little. In spite of indicating in their request for a permit that at least 400 protesters would show up,
only about two dozen came and duly made their way to Lafayette Square.

Rally participants were heavily outnumbered by counterprotesters, including members of the black-clad Antifa (as in anti-fascist) movement, who tried to vocally and sometimes physically engage with police.

The hyperbolic lead-up to the demonstrations did not live up to expectations, and all credit is due to the Metropolitan Police Department under the leadership of Chief Peter Newsham, which made sure that the tension-filled event soon faded into a non-event.

Mayor Bowser had her own moment in the national spotlight when the announcement came that President Donald Trump’s Veterans Day military parade had been postponed until next year. In a tweet, the president blamed local officials. The mayor took offense.

Trump tweeted: “The local politicians who run Washington, D.C. (poorly) know a windfallwhen they see it. When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled it.”

The mayor shot back a tweet of her own, in the process gently and with wit imitating the Trump style: “Yup, I’m Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington DC, the local politician whofinally got thru to the reality star in the White House with the realities ($21.6M) of parades/events/demonstrations in Trump America (sad).”

This seemed to many a departure for Bowser, standing up in high-profile fashion, taking on the president with bravado and humor and beating him at his own Twitter game.

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