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DC requests National Guard presence ahead of Chauvin verdict
Officials in Washington, D.C., have requested National Guard support as they prepare for potential protests surrounding the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer on trial for killing George Floyd last summer.
Christopher Rodriguez, director of the D.C. government's Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, sent an April 8 letter to the D.C. National Guard requesting the assistance, but it has yet to be approved by the Army.
Officials requested that members of the National Guard be activated to support the D.C. police department to manage crowds, block vehicles at traffic posts and provide a "quick response force." The guardsmen would not be armed.
Specifically, officials requested six crowd management teams, National Guard members to help secure 30 traffic posts and a team of at least 300 guardsmen to respond quickly to instances of "large-scale civil unrest" should they occur.
"The trial is expected to last three to four weeks and there is the potential for First Amendment demonstrations to occur in the District of Columbia in response to the verdict," Rodriguez wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The Hill. "These demonstrations are congruent with the demonstrations that occurred during 2020, where the District saw a large influx of participants and general disorder and criminal activity."
Rodriguez asked at the time that the guardsmen be prepared to support local law enforcement beginning Monday.
The D.C. National Guard said in a statement that it is ready to support local law enforcement if the mission is approved by acting Army Secretary John Whitley.
"The D.C. National Guard has received a request from the city to provide support to local law enforcement in anticipation of potential First Amendment demonstrations. The D.C. National Guard is prepared to support D.C. law enforcement, pending approval of this mission by the Secretary of the Army," the statement read.
"Supporting the Metropolitan Police Department is a part of the portfolio of the D.C. National Guard, and our team is uniquely qualified to conduct this mission. The D.C. National Guard remains strong with soldiers and airmen available to execute its requested missions. Capital guardsmen reside within the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, and are proud to be from the communities they protect and serve," it continued.
Floyd's death at the hands of police last summer set off demonstrations in cities across the country, including D.C., where many National Guard troops were deployed. Former President Trump was heavily criticized over the militarization of the city and law enforcement treatment of protesters last year.
The Chauvin trial is winding down, with closing arguments on Monday and a verdict expected to be reached in the coming days.