Last week’s riots in Washington, D.C. and storming of the Capitol have resulted in a large troop presence being brought to the area. They are ready to respond to upcoming rallies by Trump supporters and to protect the safety of the swearing in of President-elect Joe Biden and VP-elect Kamala Harris on Jan. 20.
Ahead of a number of planned pro-Trump demonstrations in DC and around the country, the 20,000 National Guard troops in DC have been given the green light to kill rioters if necessary.
Troops in DC include Guardsmen and Guardswomen from DC and six additional states. Members of Congress and staff took photos of them sleeping in the Capitol visitor’s center lobby following the riot, and others such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representatives like Andy Kim of New Jersey have taken photos with the troops and reached out to thank them.
Took a moment in between votes to visit members of the NJ National Guard protecting our Capitol to thank them and make sure they’re caffeinated for the night shift. Can’t thank them enough for their service and keeping us safe. pic.twitter.com/NarRJtnjWJ
— RepAndyKim (@RepAndyKimNJ) January 13, 2021
What’s Behind the Decision?
Federal authorities requested that troops be allowed to use as much force as necessary in upcoming incidents and US Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy signed off on the ask. McCarthy is in charge of Guard deployments into DC since it is not a state.
So far, Guard troops have helped keep the Capitol area secure by organizing traffic and letting local police do their job with less pressure.
According to the statement authorizing force it notes that there is nothing out of the ordinary with the authorization and that the Guard also are expertly trained in how to use non-lethal force when possible.
“Guardsmen are trained in the use of lethal and less-than-lethal force, de-escalation techniques, as well as the use of protective equipment. This is standard for civil disturbance response missions. The National Guard is proud to support the Secret Service, U.S. Capitol Police and Park Police who are leading the security efforts during the events for the 59th Presidential Inauguration,” the statement notes.
Cracking Down on Free Expression or Protecting the Public?
Following the violence of last week’s storming of the Capitol, including rioters who seemed to be calling to kill VP Pence and others, the federal government has a strong justification for the heavy troop presence in DC.
However, one has to ask where this kind of serious response was when BLM and Antifa rioters were burning down American cities all summer, smashing small businesses, killing police officers and spreading their message of violence through support from mainstream news networks and politicians?
Is the Capitol worth protecting but small businesses, poor neighborhoods and retired police officers like David Dorn are not?
This double standard needs to be looked into further, but if anyone is to blame it’s state authorities who let rioters run wild this summer, not the Trump Administration who offered to send federal troops and were turned down.
It’s completely normal for some Guard troops to be involved in the upcoming inauguration. The citizen soldiers of our great National Guard have served a role in every swearing in ceremony since George Washington.
But for 20,000 troops to be on hand and ready to potentially take out anyone who crosses the line into dangerous behavior, the situation is primed for escalation. Will people of all political beliefs relax and behave rationally and protest peacefully or will things get out of hand?
The presence of so many Guard troops could be a positive by stopping anyone who has bad ideas about committing violence, but it could also become a pretext for those who feel their voice is being taken away.
At this point it’s up to conservatives and libertarians to do what we can to ensure that violence does not occur and that Guard troops are successful in their mission of keeping things peaceful.