WASHINGTON – With local streets jammed with protesters for days on end, hundreds of National Guard troops have poured into the nation's capital.

Up to 1,000 have come from Tennessee; 500 were on their way Wednesday from Florida; South Carolina has sent about 400.

Yet none of them have come at the invitation of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. In fact, Bowser has rejected direct offers of help from the governors of at least four states, a spokeswoman said Thursday, highlighting an ongoing, high-stakes struggle for government control during days of protests following the death of George Floyd.

The increasing military presence, with hundreds of additional troops on standby at posts outside the city, have not only frayed tensions between municipal and federal authorities but also exposed dissent within the Trump administration, where the president has threatened to deploy active-duty troops to "dominate" the streets where some protests have turned violent.

A week after Floyd’s death, the public spotlight has been largely divided between Minneapolis where the 46-year-old black man was killed by a white police officer and Washington where President Donald Trump has been at odds with his own defense chief about the role of the military in securing American cities.

Further clouding the chain of command in the capital, the Trump administration has weighed a federal takeover of D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department, which has long secured demonstrations, inaugurations and other special events across the city.

On Thursday, Bowser vowed to fight the expanding federal presence, warning authorities in plain terms to back off.

“Know this, at no time is the mayor going to support the federal government directing MPD,” Bowser told reporters.

She also said municipal legal advisers were exploring the federal government's authority for requesting National Guard help from other states on behalf of D.C., without seeking city approval.

The mayor and Police Chief Peter Newsham said the district has not asked for federal assistance beyond a request to the D.C. National Guard for help with street closures and traffic control. 

“If I wanted troops from Maryland to come into the district, we are a member of a compact, which allows me to make that request specifically to any state National Guard to do that. I have not done that for any state,” Bowser said.

Bowser spokeswoman Susana Castillo said Thursday that the mayor had previously rejected offers of National Guard assistance from the governors of Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

As of this week, officials in 31 states had activated 30,000 National Guard members to assist state and local law enforcement in support of civil unrest operations across the country. In addition to the 39,000 deployed to assist the COVID-19 pandemic, the deployments have surpassed the guard's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Still, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she was deeply concerned about the increasingly military presence in D.C., and a "lack of clarity" about which law enforcement agencies were authorized to police the streets.

 “Soldiers on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial; (federal) Bureau of Prisons officers in Lafayette Square," Pelosi said, describing jarring scenes on D.C. streets from recent nights.

She especially took issue with the deployment of military personnel at the iconic Lincoln Memorial – the backdrop for Rev. Martin Luther King's address during the 1963 March on Washington – calling it both "inappropriate" and "stunning."

“Peaceful protesters are confronted with the image of various security officers from multiple jurisdictions, including – and this is important – unidentified federal law enforcement,” she said.

Pelosi referred to some federal officers whose uniforms did not bear traditional name tags and their agency affiliations. 

Many of those officers and agents had been drawn from an alphabet-soup of federal agencies, including the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Marshals Service and immigration enforcement units within the Department of Homeland Security.

Attorney General William Barr said Thursday that Trump requested that he coordinate the federal law enforcement response, as demonstrations began to swell and became more aggressive in the city last weekend.

The attorney general said that coordination included the D.C. Metropolitan Police and Chief Newsham.

Barr's most scrutinized action – the clearing of protesters from a street near the White House in advance of Trump's controversial visit to St. John's Church – put him directly at odds with the city and Bowser, who decried the action as disrupting a peaceful demonstration. 

The attorney general disputed that claim Thursday, saying he observed that protesters at the Lafayette Square location had access to "projectiles," presenting potential danger to federal officers, National Guard troops and property.

Before federal authorities took action, Barr claimed, protesters defied three warnings to move so that a security perimeter could be expanded.

He said the decision to expand the perimeter and move the protesters was not coordinated with Trump's decision to visit the nearby church.  

D.C. officials said they didn't oppose federal officers patrolling Lafayette Square, which is part of a federal complex, and areas around federal buildings.

“When they pushed out onto a D.C. street, that is (going) too far, and that is what we push back on,” Bowser said.