DC National Guard will be unarmed in response to expected protests as verdict in Derek Chauvin trial looms

Photo by Jennie Taer in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. Tuesday morning feels like any other day with some young professionals scurrying to the office and others grabbing a coffee or walking the dog before remote work, but an underlying tension can be felt among the populace as the verdict of the Derek Chauvin trial looms.

The prospect that violence could grip the city is a reality. Because of this, city officials say they have prepared for the worst and the Secretary of the Army has approved the activation of the National Guard. However, the 250 D.C. National Guard troops that are being activated to support the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department won’t be armed. They, instead, are expected to assist with street closures and to keep areas around the city safe. The President is the only one who can authorize the troops to arm “at this time, that’s not a plan.”, a spokeswoman for the National Guard said. She requested anonymity.

White House officials did not return an email seeking comment. This story will be updated if and when one is received.

The troops will be unarmed, a D.C. National Guard spokeswoman confirmed to reporter on Tuesday.

It was just last summer when rioters took hold of city streets, burned a church, looted businesses, and attacked law enforcement officers and members of the media. They did so in the name of racial justice after a video made waves on social media showing then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on George Floyd’s neck as Floyd said multiple times “I can’t breathe.” Despite Floyd’s desperate calls, Chauvin didn’t let up the pressure for nearly nine minutes and Floyd died in police custody.

Rioters over the summer in D.C were met with pepper balls, rubber bullets, low flying helicopters were deployed and the Attorney General ‘flooded the zone’ with federal agents, troops, and police. According to Axios, the damage to businesses across the country was the most expensive in insurance history, costing over $1 billion.

The summer left reportedly over 2,000 law enforcement officers injured nationwide.

The jury is now deliberating Chauvin’s, who is charged in Floyd’s death, case after the prosecution and defense presented closing arguments on Monday.

A quick reaction force, however, could be approved by the Secretary of the Army.

“In the event the Metropolitan Police Department does require a quick reaction force, our soldiers and airmen will deploy to provide assistance in crowd management operations alongside law enforcement,” the D.C. National Guard spokeswoman said.

You can follow Jennie Taer on Twitter @JennieSTaer