By ASHRAF KHALIL and LOLITA c. Baldor, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) – The mayor of Washington, D.C., urged calm on Monday as some 340 National Guard troops were being activated while the city prepared for a potentially violent protest around Congress, President-Elect Joe Biden’s Expected vote to confirm victory.
According to an American defense official, Mayor Muriel Bauser requested to keep guard members on the streets from January 5-7 on New Year’s Eve to help with protests. The official said members of the DC National Guard would be used for traffic control and other assistance, but would not wear armed or body armor. Congress is meeting this week to certify the results of the Electoral College, and President Donald Trump has refused to back down the protests.
During a press conference on Monday, Bowser asked that people stay away from downtown DC, and avoid a confrontation with anyone who is “looking for a fight.” But, he warned, “We will not let people incite violence, intimidate our residents or cause destruction in our city.”
There will be around 115 guards on duty in the city at any given time, the defense official said, who provided details on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The official said the guard members would be used to set up traffic control points around the city and stand with district police officers at all metro stops in the city. Acting Police Chief Robert Conte said guard troops would also be used for some crowd management.
“Our intelligence certainly suggests that the size of the crowd will increase,” Conte said. People are intent on coming into our armed forces. “
Because DC does not have a governor, the designated commander of the city’s National Guard is Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy. Any DC request for deployment of the guard must be approved by him.
The defense official said that there would be no active duty troops in the city, and the US military would not provide any aircraft or intelligence. The DC Guard will provide special teams who will be ready to respond to any chemical or biological event. But the official said there would be no DC Guard members in the National Mall or the US Capitol.
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