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About 400 Idaho National Guardsmen going to Washington, D.C., to help during protests

Idaho National Guards (The National Guard/Flickr)

The Idaho National Guard is sending approximately 400 members to Washington, D.C., to start working Friday throughout the nation’s capital. The Guardsmen will be stationed at monuments, federal buildings and other property.

The move is a response to a request from the National Guard Bureau, which reached out for volunteers to come to Washington temporarily amid Black Lives Matter protests, according to a press release. President Donald Trump has called for a large military presence in the capital.

“Whether responding to a crisis in Idaho, or another state, the principles of the Idaho National Guard remain the same,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Garshack, Idaho’s adjutant general, in the release. “Regardless of where we are in the U.S., our role is to support civilian authorities and our personnel are trained to protect life, preserve property and ensure people’s right to peacefully protest.”

Personnel activated Thursday will travel via military aircraft and report for duty no later than Friday, the release said. The deployment is expected to last five days, with Idaho Guardsmen assisting the United States Park Police and the Metropolitan Police Department.

“I don’t know what that current situation and threat of vandalism is. … But I have heard the violence and vandalism is scaling down,” Lt. Christopher Borders told the Statesman.

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According to Borders, the Idaho Guard received the request a few days ago for volunteers in the event they might be needed. The specific request to deploy came within the past 24 hours.

Protests and demonstrations have taken place in Washington for more than a week, part of nationwide events that are the result of George Floyd’s death. Floyd, an African American man, died after a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck and pinned him to the ground for more than 8 minutes, ignoring Floyd’s pleas that he could not breathe.

Officials in D.C. believe that protests there will continue through the weekend.

As of Thursday, 1,200 D.C. National Guard forces were on duty, and 3,300 others were either already in the district or about to arrive from Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah, according to McClatchy’s D.C. Bureau. McClatchy owns the Idaho Statesman.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser placed the city under a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. beginning Monday, but it was lifted Thursday night.

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© 2020 The Idaho Statesman