The DC National Guard announced it is activating approximately 250 members to support the city’s local law enforcement in the face of possible demonstrations over a verdict in the ongoing Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis.
Acting Secretary of the Army John Whitley authorized the activation of the National Guard personnel on Monday.
“At the request of Dr. Rodriguez, Director of the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, the District of Columbia National Guard is in a support role to the Metropolitan Police Department and we are prepared to help provide a safe environment for our fellow citizens to exercise their first amendment right,” Brig. Gen. Aaron R. Dean II, The Adjutant General of the DC National Guard said in a release. “This is our home, and we are dedicated to the safety and security of our fellow citizens of the District and their right to safely and peacefully protest.”
The decision came in response to a request from DC Mayor Muriel Bowser as the city braces for large-scale protests following an upcoming verdict in the trial of Chauvin.
The former Minneapolis police officer was charged with killing George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, after kneeling on his neck for over nine minutes in May 2020. The District, as well as many other cities across the nation, saw days of protests in the wake of Floyd’s death in the summer of 2020.
The DC National Guard has been approved to provide assistance in the city as needed until May 9. “This support is a part of the portfolio of the D.C. National Guard, and our team is uniquely qualified to conduct this mission,” said the release.
The troops will not be armed, according to Dr. Christopher Rodriguez, who said “The only authority that can arm the National Guard is the president, and so we did not request any armed assistance.”
The Metropolitan Police Department said last week that it “will be fully activated with members on 12-hour shifts starting Monday, April 19, 2021, until further notice,” due to potential First Amendment demonstrations in connection with an expected verdict in the Chauvin trial.