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Tipsheet

DC Asks National Guard to Help Handle Freedom Convoy, But Rebuffed Troops During 2020 Unrest

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The United States Capitol Police and DC authorities asked the Department of Defense to activate National Guard troops to deal with traffic disruptions officials apparently fear may come if a freedom convoy arrives in the National Capital Region in the days surrounding President Biden's March 1st State of the Union address. 

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According to a statement from Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby on Tuesday, "The Department is analyzing a request for assistance from the US Capitol Police and the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency... for National Guard personnel to provide support at traffic control points in and around the District to help the USCP and DC government address potential challenges stemming from possible disruptions at key traffic arteries," NBC4 reported

Later on Tuesday evening, the Pentagon announced that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had granted the request and would authorize up to 700 National Guard troops in an attempt to rebuff any freedom convoy-like demonstrations in the region. According to ABC News, "About 400 members of the D.C. National Guard and 300 members from outside of the district will support traffic control. None will carry firearms 'or take part in law enforcement or domestic-surveillance activities,' according to the National Guard Bureau."

The reports of a request for National Guard deployment to DC came on the same day residents of the nation's capital were notified via the city's emergency alert system of "potential demonstration activity" in the region:

The District of Columbia and its public safety agencies are aware of and prepared for potential demonstrations that may take place in the National Capital Region in the weeks ahead. Mayor Bowser is being briefed by public safety officials as we continue to monitor the situation closely. There are layered mitigation strategies in place and our agencies remain in regular contact with local, regional, and federal partners. 

A permit application has not been submitted to the Metropolitan Police Department as of yet. Residents should remain vigilant and always report suspicious activity.

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The reaction from Washington authorities — including Mayor Bowser — in the face of a potential freedom convoy similar to the one that's facing off against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the country's vaccine mandates and COVID policies is a far cry from the city's reaction to and preparation for Black Lives Matter and Antifa protests that turned to anarchic violence for days on end. 

Back in June of 2020, Bowser demanded that then-President Trump withdraw National Guard troops from the nation's capital and cited a litany of concerns that apparently she and the rest of DC's government conveniently no longer finds valid.

According to a USA Today story at the time:

Washington, D.C., officials hardened their opposition to the expanding federal law enforcement and military presence in the city Friday, demanding that President Donald Trump withdraw forces from the city.

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"We are well equipped to handle large demonstrations and First Amendment activities," said Bowser in a letter to Trump dated Thursday, adding that the mass deployment of federal law enforcement officers and heavy equipment was serving to "inflame" demonstrations rather than secure them.

"This multiplicity of forces can breed dangerous confusion," Bowser said.

So when the "large demonstrations and First Amendment activities" just happen to be under the banner "Black Lives Matter" that Bowser herself had painted on a main thoroughfare leading up to Trump's White House, DC was more than able to handle things on their own. 

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Bowser warned then that deployment of federal law enforcement officers would "inflame" the individuals who had already burned businesses, shattered windows, and attacked police officers and that multiple forces could create "dangerous confusion." But in the face of some... truck drivers... driving to DC, Bowser goes running to the Biden administration for help. The same help she rebuffed and characterized as inflaming and dangerous when her hypocritical shoe was on the other foot.

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