Fearing a repeat of previous violence, officials have confirmed that the National Guard will be deploying hundreds of troops to the nation’s capital this week as tens of thousands of Donald Trump supporters and far-right nationalists protest the congressional certification of Joe Biden‘s election victory.
Trump himself is one of those who has been promoting the “wild” protests scheduled to take place in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, January 6, prompting concerns that extremists such as Proud Boys will descend on the city and engage in physical violence and destruction in support of the president’s widely dismissed cries of widespread voter fraud.
Trump supporters are expected to start arriving and gathering in the city on Tuesday, one day ahead of the congressional certification of the Electoral College results and Biden’s victory.
Authorities in the capital have already taken steps to try and ensure there will not be a repeat—or worse, an escalation—of the violence which broke out following a previous pro-Trump rally in the city on December 12 as far-right and white nationalist groups clashed with counter-protesters and antifa.
The District of Columbia National Guard confirmed that 340 troops will be deployed to the city this week to assist with the patrolling of the planned protests.
“At the request of Mayor Muriel Bowser, the District of Columbia National Guard is in a support role to the Metropolitan Police Department which will enable them to provide a safe environment for our fellow citizens to exercise their first amendment right to demonstrate,” said Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, Commanding General of the D.C. National Guard.
“Our main mission is augmenting select traffic control points and metro stations identified by MPD.”
Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee also told a City Hall news conference on Monday that the National Guard troops will also be joined by the U.S. Capitol Police, U.S. Park Police and U.S. Secret Service.
The Metropolitan Police Department has also warned protesters not to openly carry guns at the protests like in previous rallies and that firearms will be prohibited within 1000 feet of D.C.’s Freedom Plaza, located near the White House.
Washington D.C. already has a strict firearms law which bans the open carry of guns. It is also illegal to conceal carry a firearm in the city unless they have a concealed pistol license issued by the District of Columbia.
Elsewhere on Monday, Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys group, was arrested on January 4 while entering the District of Columbia on suspicion of setting fire to a Black Lives Matter flag which had been torn off a church during the night of unrest which followed the December 12 protest.
Tarrio was also allegedly found to be in possession of two high capacity firearm magazines. He has been charged with destruction of property and possession of high capacity feeding device.