On Tuesday, the Department of Defense authorized the deployment of over 700 National Guard members and over 50 tactical vehicles in anticipation of multiple trucker convoy protests that are expected to take place in Washington, D.C.
According to CNN, the National Guardsmen will not be armed, but will instead be stationed around the city to provide control and support at various traffic points. They allegedly will not be authorized to carry out law enforcement duties or mass surveillance. In addition, the DC National Guard is prohibited from using any aircraft during the protests.
The deployment comes after the Pentagon received two different requests for National Guard support. The first came from DC’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, to which Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin agreed by authorizing 400 National Guardsmen and 50 large tactical vehicles, which will remain in place throughout the city until March 8th. The second request came from the U.S. Capitol Police, to which Austin approved an additional 300 members of the National Guard, who will be stationed around the Capitol building.
The move by the Defense Department comes ahead of several trucker convoys that are en route for the nation’s capital in the coming days. Inspired by the highly successful “Freedom Convoy” protest in Canada, which protested in the capital city of Ottawa against vaccine mandates for truckers, multiple different convoys are now being planned for the DC area in the days leading up to Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address on March 1st.
One truck convoy is allegedly heading to DC on Wednesday from Pennsylvania, while another convoy is set to leave from California for a cross-country journey that will end in DC sometime next week.
In response to the planned protests, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the Biden Administration is “monitoring this closely.” Psaki said that some of the tactics that will be used to combat the protests include “enhanced intelligence sharing, a critical incident response plan for the US Capitol, a regional security assessment, [and] a simulation experiment that developed data-driven recommendations to bolster regional security.”
The protests in Canada, which started in late January, have sparked numerous similar protests around the world, from New Zealand to the United States. Earlier this month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergency Act, which has been compared to martial law, in order to begin unilaterally cracking down on the peaceful protesters, leading to mass acts of violence and police brutality against the protesters. Viral videos of Canadian police viciously beating protesters in the streets without provocation, including a horseback officer nearly trampling a woman to death, have led to universal outrage and condemnation of the Canadian government.
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