The District of Columbia National Guard (DCNG) is sending around 250 troops into the nation’s capital to assist with the local law enforcement response to anticipated “First Amendment demonstrations” following the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of murdering George Floyd during his arrest last year, according to a DCNG press release Monday.
“On behalf of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, Dr. Christopher Rodriguez, Director of the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, has requested D.C. Guardsmen to assist police with street closures at multiple intersections in order to provide safety in and around pedestrian areas,” the release stated.
The Capital Guardsmen is comprised of men and women who reside in the District, Virginia and Maryland, and the announcement stated that they are approved to remain in the nation’s capital supporting local law enforcement until May 9.
“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 D.C. National Guard, said in the statement.
“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,” Dean continued.
Adding to already heightened tensions, hundreds of high school students across Minneapolis walked out of class Monday to protest the National Guard presence in city, shouting, “Go home!”
About 3,000 National Guard troops are currently deployed in the Minneapolis area, according to CBS 4 Minnesota.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz had previously tweeted his support for the National Guard, defending them as “neighbors” following verbal attacks from labor activists.
“Let’s be clear: The brave men and women of the Minnesota National Guard are our neighbors. They’re teachers, health care workers, and business owners who live in communities across our state,” he tweeted. “This is unacceptable. They can’t ‘go home’ — this is their home.”
The DCNG activation announcement also came within hours of the closing arguments in the Derek Chauvin trial.
As the verdict looms, Minneapolis is preparing for anticipated riots, a move Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) appeared to encourage this weekend when she said if Chauvin is not found guilty, demonstrators should get “more active” and “more confrontational.”
“[We’ve] got to make sure that they know we mean business,” the top Democrat said.