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DC National Guard to provide unarmed security for monuments in DC

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 22: U.S. Park Police keep protesters back after they attempted to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square near the White House on June 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. Protests continue around the country over police brutality, racial injustice and the deaths of African Americans while in police custody. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

    (CNN) — The DC National Guard will provide unarmed guard members to assist with additional security for monuments in Washington, DC, the National Guard Bureau said Wednesday.

“The District of Columbia National Guard is responding to a request to support law enforcement officials and has dispatched unarmed personnel, with others on stand-by, National Guard spokesman Major Robert Perino said in a statement to CNN. “Activated Guardsmen are expected to provide security for local monuments and critical infrastructure.”

A defense official says Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy signed the memo Tuesday authorizing the activation of the DC National Guard forces, after the National Park Police made a request for the assistance.

The official strongly emphasized that no Guard forces have yet been sent onto the streets and so far have all stayed inside their barracks. There are currently about 100 troops in the immediate Washington, DC, area. The activation could grow to 400 in total to rotate troops if needed. The Pentagon expects the guard forces to be used as a stopgap measure until the Justice Department can muster additional federal law enforcement personnel to take over the mission, the defense official said. Nonetheless it is expected the guard units will remain in the DC area through July 4th.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump said he would sign an executive order punishing those who damage monuments to US veterans, though he acknowledged that federal law already allows up to 10 years prison time for offenses.

On Tuesday, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt appearing on Fox News said he asked DOD to make National Guard “available” to them if needed to protect monuments.

On Tuesday, law enforcement cleared streets at the Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, DC, removing several tents near the White House in which protesters were encamped leading to a tense confrontation between police and demonstrators.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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