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Charlie Baker deactivates National Guard called up to assist with ‘large-scale demonstrations’

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker updates reporters on the state's response to the novel coronavirus' spread around the world. (Steph Solis/MassLive.com/TNS)
September 01, 2020

Gov. Charlie Baker late on Monday ended his order calling up to 1,000 members of the Massachusetts National Guard to active duty over  the weekend in anticipation of several “large scale demonstrations.”

“Following coordination with municipal leaders through the weekend regarding potential large scale demonstrations, Governor Baker today authorized the Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard to end the Governor’s Aug. 28 activation order,” a spokesman from the Executive Office of Public Safey and Security said.

The activation order expires at midnight, according to the spokesman.

Baker was tight-lipped over the weekend on why he called the guard to active duty on Friday, but State Police Col. Christopher Mason said Monday it was “out of an abundance of caution” on a weekend where multiple protests were planned in Boston and as violence broke out in other cities across the nation.

“I think the call-up of the National Guard was a nod to ensuring that we would have the capacity to continue to be able to facilitate those First Amendment gatherings and make sure people can be heard and make sure people can execute their right, or utilize their right, of public gathering, and they can deliver the message,” Mason told reporters during an unrelated press conference on Monday morning.

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The Friday order came on the heels of the latest police shooting — this time in Kenosha, Wisc. — and as violence broke out at demonstrations against police violence and racism in both Kenosha and Portland, Ore.

Baker’s order was vague saying, “in the event that municipal leaders require their assistance” and offered little more detail as to why the troops were activated or what they were doing.

The Friday release from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security suggested the troops were tapped to function in a law enforcement capacity and a Monday evening press release further clarified National Guard personnel were ready to assist cities and towns throughout the activation but did not take an active role in any municipal operations.

Several protests were planned in Boston over the weekend — including one for a large demonstration against Baker’s new mandate requiring all school-aged children to receive flu shots — all were peaceful.

The administration statement noted that National Guard military police units go through federally-accredited police training and are trained to Massachusetts standards and that members of the National Guard assisted local law enforcement agencies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

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(c) 2020 the Boston Herald
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.