An Ohio National Guard member who was deployed to the nation’s capital to help crack down on protesters has been suspended for expressing white supremacist views, Gov. Mike DeWine said Friday.
The unidentified Guardsman was found to have expressed the racist ideology on the internet before being sent to Washington, D.C. earlier this week, according to an ongoing FBI investigation.
“While I fully support everyone’s right to free speech, Guardsmen and women are sworn to protect all of us, regardless of race, ethnic background, or religion,” DeWine said in a statement posted on Twitter.
“Our Ohio National Guard members are in a position of trust and authority during times of crisis, and anyone who displays malice toward specific groups of Americans has no place in the (Ohio National Guard),” he wrote.
DeWine said it’s “highly likely” that the individual will be “permanently removed” from the force.
The Ohio National Guard and the Ohio Department of Public Safety are “fully cooperating” with the FBI investigation, the governor said.
Thousands of National Guard troops have been deployed to the capital amid the growing street protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
But their presence in what has been largely a peaceful protest has irked many local officials — including the attorney general for Washington, D.C. and the city’s mayor, who have publicly questioned the Trump administration’s legal authority to fill the streets with National Guard troops.
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