Hundreds of National Guard troops are being deployed to Washington, D.C., in anticipation of potential protests and rioting in response to Congress’s forthcoming vote to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
After Mayor Muriel Bowser on New Year’s Eve requested assistance from the Guard on the streets from January 5 to 7, 340 National Guard troops will be activated, according to the Associated Press.
A joint session of Congress will meet Wednesday to tally Electoral College votes. A long and contentious session is expected after a number of Republicans have vowed to challenge the electoral votes. President Trump has refused to concede the election and has encouraged his supporters to show up for protests in Washington on Wednesday to voice their opposition to the certification of results.
A defense department official told the outlet that there will be 115 Guard troops on duty at any one time who will conduct traffic control and crowd management as well as to stand with district police officers at the city’s Metro stops. However, they will not be armed or wearing body armor.
Bowser on Monday asked people to keep away from downtown D.C., and to avoid conflicts with anyone who is “looking for a fight.”
“We will not allow people to incite violence, intimidate our residents or cause destruction in our city,” she added.
Acting Police Chief Robert Contee warned that “some of our intelligence suggests there will be increased crowd sizes.”
“There are people intent on coming to our city armed,” he said.
There will be no active-duty military troops in the city, and the U.S. military will not be providing any aircraft or intelligence, the defense official told the AP.
Specialized D.C. Guard teams will be at the ready to respond to any chemical or biological incident, though no D.C. Guard members will be on the National Mall or at the U.S. Capitol, the official added.