National Guard activated in District ahead of Chauvin trial verdict, potential protests

Media Credit: File Photo by Lillian Bautista | Senior Photo Editor

The Guardsmen will assist Metropolitan Police Department officers with street closures at intersections and will remain in the city "as needed" to tighten public safety and security until May 9.

Editor’s note: Following publication of this blog, Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

The D.C. National Guard activated about 250 unarmed officers Monday as the District braces for the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

The Guardsmen will assist Metropolitan Police Department officers with street closures at intersections and will remain in the city “as needed” to tighten public safety and security until May 9, according to a release from the National Guard. The activation comes ahead of the verdict in Chauvin’s murder trial over the death of George Floyd, which sparked violent protests leading to citywide curfews and the deployment of National Guardsmen throughout the District last year.

“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,” said Brigadier General Aaron Dean II, the adjutant general of the D.C. National Guard. “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.”

MPD officers will work 12-hour shifts, and the National Guard members will help manage downtown activity and patrol Metro stations in the city, according to a report from The Washington Post. Mayor Muriel Bowser first requested National Guard support April 8, asking for more than 300 unarmed officers to assist MPD with crowd control, traffic management and security planning before potential protests surrounding the trial’s verdict.

“There is potential for First Amendment demonstrations to occur in the District of Columbia in response to the verdict,” the request reads. “These demonstrations are congruent with the demonstrations that occurred during 2020, where the District saw a large influx of participants and general disorder and criminal activity.”

The jury concluded its first day of deliberations Monday without a verdict. Cities across the country have started ramping up security measures to manage public demonstrations.

The federal government deployed the National Guard in the District earlier this year following the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, occupying parts of campus before President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

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