Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser has asked the Department of Defense to activate the National Guard to help keep peace on Wednesday when thousands of President Donald Trump’s supporters are expected to gather to protest certifying the Electoral College vote.
The January 6th rally is actually a collection of several smaller rallies in addition to a semi-official Trump campaign gathering, headlined by the president. The demonstration is meant to pressure Congressional Republicans into refusing to certify Joe Biden as the winner of November’s presidential election.
Rally-goers contend that Biden won the election only through widespread vote fraud — an allegation that does not appear to be borne out by evidence. Several Republican members of Congress, both the House and the Senate, say they are prepared to refuse to certify the Electoral College vote until a 10-day “speed audit” can be conducted in states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
Bowser, who did not call out the National Guard to handle planned protests outside of the White House during the Republican National Convention — protests that eventually turned violent, even targeting a sitting United States Senator — appears to believe Wednesday’s demonstration will be dangerous.
“According to a U.S. defense official, Mayor Muriel Bowser put in a request on New Year’s Eve to have Guard members on the streets from Jan. 5-7th, to help with the protests,” the Associated Press reported Monday. “The official said the D.C. National Guard members will be used for traffic control and other assistance but they will not be armed or wearing body armor. Congress is meeting this week to certify the Electoral College results, and President Donald Trump has refused to concede while whipping up support for protests.”
“There will be about 115 Guard troops on duty at any one time in the city, said the defense official, who provided details on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations,” the report continued. “The official said Guard members will be used to set up traffic control points around the city and to stand with district police officers at all the city’s Metro stops. Acting Police Chief Robert Contee said Guard troops will also be used for some crowd management.”
Bowser reportedly stopped short of requesting any active duty military presence in the city. Most of downtown Washington, D.C., including the streets around the White House, the U.S. Capitol building, and the National Mall will be blocked off, per the Washington Post.
At a press conference Monday, Bowser said she “will not allow people to incite violence, intimidate our residents or cause destruction in our city.” She urged residents not to give in to Trump supporters who are “looking for a fight.”
Over the summer, Washington, D.C., like many major cities, was marred by violent protests that piggybacked off of more peaceful anti-racism demonstrations. The city suffered property damage, and, in December, a clash between Trump supporters and members of Antifa left at least two police officers wounded, per Fox News. The dueling protests ended in 23 arrests, 10 charges, and 4 people stabbed.
The “big protest rally,” as the president called it, is slated to begin at 11 am on Wednesday, as Congress convenes to discuss the results of the Electoral College vote from late December. Thousands are expected to attend.