250 National Guard members activated, as DC braces for Chauvin verdict

Law enforcement officials have been preparing for the outcome of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the officer accused of causing George Floyd’s death, which sparked nationwide protests calling for police reform last summer.

Chauvin was convicted Tuesday of murder and manslaughter for pinning George Floyd to the pavement with his knee on the Black man’s neck in a case that touched off worldwide protests, violence and a furious reexamination of racism and policing in the U.S.

“I can tell you that the chief of police [Robert Contee] and the director of DC Homeland Security [Chris Rodriguez] have been coordinating and preparing for several weeks, probably before the trial even began,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser at a news conference.

Contee has put police on 12-hour shifts, she said, “and that’s been our posture for about a week.”

D.C. also put in a request for National Guard help a little over a week ago, Rodriguez said. And on Monday evening, some 250 members were activated. For now, they’re approved to help until May 9.

“We are prepared to help provide a safe environment for our fellow citizens to exercise their first amendment right,” said Brig. Gen. Aaron R. Dean II, with the D.C. National Guard.

Per Rodriguez, they’ll provide “some assistance at traffic locations downtown, as well as some enhanced security for our Metro stations in the downtown corridor, as well as a quick-reaction force that can be deployed anywhere in the city in the event of large scale protests.”

Earlier, Rodriguez said that Guard members will not be armed.

“The only authority that can arm the National Guard is the president. And so we did not request any armed assistance for Guard support,” he said.

The activation comes as Defense Department and National Guard officials tell the Associated Press that there are concerns about the number of deployment requests the District has made since the Capitol riots. Officials also said D.C. should seek additional support from federal law enforcement agencies in the region instead.

WTOP’s Jack Pointer contributed to this report.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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