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Feds Issue Troubling Order to Nat'l Guard in DC Without Consulting Trump, Rioters Are Thrilled

The District of Columbia National Guard and guardsmen from other states have been directed by the Defense Department not to use firearms or ammunition in response to the protests that have swept the country following the death of George Floyd, a new report says.

The decision was reportedly made without consulting the White House, according to The Washington Post, which cited “officials familiar with the situation.”

President Donald Trump called on governors earlier this week to deploy National Guard units to “dominate the streets” in response to the protests, according to ABC News.

The president technically controls the D.C. National Guard because the District of Columbia is a special federal jurisdiction and does not have the status of a state.

Guardsmen in the city originally carried guns while standing outside monuments, according to The Post.

But those working with the police in front of the White House didn’t carry firearms, the outlet said.

The 5,000 guardsmen who are either deploying to Washington, D.C., or are already there have now been told not to use weapons or ammunition, The Post reported, citing “four officials familiar with the order.”

"The whole purpose behind that was a purposeful show of de-escalation,” a defense official told The Washington Post on condition of anonymity because the order hadn’t been made public at the time.

“We’re here, but we’re walking things down.”

A senior defense official confirmed that the White House wasn’t involved in the decision.

“The order affected only about 10 guardsmen who had been out on patrol with firearms that weren’t loaded but with ammunition in their packs, the senior defense official said,” according to The Post.

Trump had initially responded to the protests by deploying the D.C. guardsmen, calling up guardsmen from other states and bringing in personnel from the Bureau of Prisons and Customs and Border Protection to help keep the peace in the streets.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser criticized the president for not requiring some federal law enforcement agents to wear identifying uniforms or badges.

The situation in the city became tense after the D.C. Guard began to conduct military maneuvers in helicopters to try to disperse crowds of protesters.

Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper have previously clashed over the president’s desire to use military force in response to the protests in D.C.

On Thursday, another standoff with the Pentagon came to an end when Trump agreed to send home 82nd Airborne Division troops he had ordered to come to Washington, The New York Times reported.

The active-duty troops remained on alert outside the city while the National Guard was deployed near the White House and elsewhere in the city.

Author: Erin Coates


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