The Defense Department has approved a request from the Capitol Police to have National Guard troops back them up during a Saturday demonstration in support of Jan. 6 rioters being held in Washington, D.C.’s jail as their cases play out.
A hundred D.C. National Guardsmen will make up a “Physical Security Task Force” that will be posted at the D.C. armory, a roughly 10-minute drive from the Capitol.
“Should the Capitol Police require assistance, they will first utilize local, state, and Federal law enforcement capabilities before requesting the deployment of the Physical Security Task Force,” Army Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a Friday release. “The task force will only be deployed upon request of the Capitol Police to help protect the U.S. Capitol Building and Congressional Office buildings by manning building entry points and verifying credentials of individuals seeking access to the building.”
The “Justice for J6,” referencing Jan. 6, rally is expected to draw fewer than 1,000, according to the permit the organizers secured with the district. Fencing went up Wednesday night around the Capitol complex, intended to keep any protestors a good distance away.
Because D.C. is not a state, activating its National Guard requires a request from a specific agency in the district, and it must be approved by the Pentagon. On Jan. 6, D.C.’s mayor had requested traffic control support downtown, but the Capitol Police chose not to request a Guard presence until after the Capitol had been breached.
The Associated Press reported earlier this month that intelligence reports suggest that right-wing extremists, including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, plan to attend the protest, though the crowd is expected to be significantly smaller than the one on Jan. 6
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT