Following the Capitol siege – which was an inside job – the complex web of city and federal jurisdictional authority ordered 20,000 National Guardsmen to protect DC, the White House and the Capitol. The National Guardsmen arrived after the siege, with the intention of protecting the city and the federal buildings from another armed insurrection of white supremacist terrorists. They succeeded. The show of force was enough in DC and across the country – the Nazi neckbeards stayed home and wept into their machine guns. Following the inauguration, it seems like Capitol Police somehow thought they had the authority to tell the National Guard to, like, stand down and go sleep in a parking garage. This sh-t got fixed in a matter of hours though and no one is sure who ordered what or why.
Thousands of National Guardsmen were allowed back into the Capitol Thursday night, hours after U.S. Capitol Police officials ordered them to vacate the facilities, sending them outdoors or to nearby parking garages after two weeks pulling security duty after the deadly riot on Jan. 6. One unit, which had been resting in the Dirksen Senate Office building, was abruptly told to vacate the facility on Thursday, according to one Guardsman. The group was forced to rest in a nearby parking garage without internet reception, with just one electrical outlet, and one bathroom with two stalls for 5,000 troops, the person said. Temperatures in Washington were in the low 40s by nightfall.
“Yesterday dozens of senators and congressmen walked down our lines taking photos, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service. Within 24 hours, they had no further use for us and banished us to the corner of a parking garage. We feel incredibly betrayed,” the Guardsman said.
All National Guard troops were told to vacate the Capitol and nearby congressional buildings on Thursday, and to set up mobile command centers outside or in nearby hotels, another Guardsman confirmed. They were told to take their rest breaks during their 12-hour shifts outside and in parking garages, the person said.
Top lawmakers from both parties took to Twitter to decry the decision and call for answers after POLITICO first reported the news Thursday night, with some even offering their offices to be used as rest areas. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted: “If this is true, it’s outrageous. I will get to the bottom of this.” And Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) noted that the Capitol complex remains closed to members of the public, “so there’s plenty of room for troops to take a break in them.” By 10 p.m., Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) said the situation was “being resolved” and that the Guardsmen would be able to return indoors later in the night.
“Just made a number of calls and have been informed Capitol Police have apologized to the Guardsmen and they will be allowed back into the complex tonight,” added Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who lost both of her legs in combat. “I’ll keep checking to make sure they are.”
A Guard source confirmed late Thursday night that all troops in the parking garages were ordered to return inside the Capitol. Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead, the Guard’s Inauguration Task Force commander, confirmed in a statement to POLITICO a little after midnight that the troops are out of the garage and back into the Capitol building as authorized by the USCP Watch Commander. They will take their breaks near Emancipation Hall going forward.
Politico goes on to cite the Capitol Police as the reason why there was so much confusion – the Capitol Police had requested that the National Guardsmen get reduced hours away from the Capitol complex, but no one is taking credit for the apparent order to force National Guard into parking garages in the dead of winter. I’m glad this was taken care of within hours and that the Guardsmen are back inside the Capitol where it’s presumably a lot warmer. I would imagine that many NG units will be sent home soon enough, but perhaps that order won’t come until we see how the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump plays out. I imagine there will be some terrorists who want to “protest” the trial.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.
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