DC mayor activates National Guard ahead of pro-Trump demonstrations
National Guard troops are being activated in Washington, D.C., this week as thousands of President Trump’s supporters are expected to arrive in the nation’s capital to protest the results of the presidential election amid Congress’s certification of the Electoral College vote.
The D.C. National Guard said on Monday that roughly 340 personnel will be activated for support in the city from Jan. 5-7 as local officials respond to the scheduled pro-Trump demonstrations on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The agency said its members will be assisting with providing crowd control at local train stations and helping police with street closures.
“Capital guardsmen will also support D.C. Fire and Emergency Management Services with specially trained Civil Support Team personnel. Guardsmen are prepared to respond to augment the main missions, should additional personnel be required,” the agency said.
The move comes after Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and Christopher Rodriguez, director of the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, requested additional support ahead of this week’s demonstrations.
“At the request of Mayor Muriel Bowser, the District of Columbia National Guard is in a support role to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) which will enable them to provide a safe environment for our fellow citizens to exercise their first amendment right to demonstrate,” Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, said in a statement.
“Our main mission is augmenting select traffic control points and metro stations identified by MPD,” Walker added.
Bowser has urged people in the District to avoid the downtown area on Tuesday and Wednesday and also asked them not to engage with demonstrators who have come to the city “seeking confrontation.”
She also issued reminders for those attending the planned demonstrations that local laws bar anyone from carrying firearms within 1,000 feet “of any First Amendment activity.”
At least three groups have submitted paperwork to the National Parks Service to hold pro-Trump demonstrations this week as Congress is set to vote Wednesday to certify Electoral College votes declaring Joe Biden the winner of the presidential election.
The Proud Boys, a far-right group, has also announced plans to have its members attend the pro-Trump rallies that day, along with Trump, who said he planned to take part in the “March for Trump” event scheduled for Wednesday.
Roughly 5,000 people are expected to attend that event, which is also expected to feature Roger Stone and Rudy Giuliani.
The District is expected to see an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 people turn out for the demonstrations this week. However, one event organizer, James Epley, founder of The Silent Majority, claims the city will see hundreds of thousands in attendance at this week’s demonstrations.
In addition to the activation of the National Guard, the city will also be temporarily shutting down certain roads and implementing restrictions on parking.
The measures come several weeks after four people were stabbed and others were injured, including police officers, amid clashes between pro-Trump supporters and counterprotesters in the District.
Two historic Black churches in Washington, D.C., were also targeted during the demonstrations at the time, with both seeing their sign and banner supporting the Black Lives Matter movement taken down and vandalized by protesters.
Ellen Mitchell contributed to this report, which was updated at 3:18 p.m.