- The National Guard heavily policed Washington, DC, to quell Black Lives Matter protests last week.
- According to a Wednesday New York Times report, some of the National Guard troops deployed to the capital were just out of basic training.
- Some of the troops were also allowed to drive armored vehicles around DC without the proper military licenses, the report said.
- One member of the DC National Guard told The Times said he and some of his fellow Guardsmen hadn’t told their families about their involvement out of shame.
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A new report in The New York Times is shedding new light on what went wrong during the National Guard’s involvement in the recent George Floyd protests in Washington, DC.
The report details how National Guardsmen from other states were brought in to bolster the DC National Guard as Black Lives Matter demonstrations took place in the nation’s capital.
The DC protests became a focal point of the national protests when US Park Police fired tear gas and pepper balls on peaceful protesters to clear Lafayette Square, across the road from the White House, so that President Donald Trump could conduct a photo op outside a church.
The National Guard was backing these officers up, and has also been criticized for flying helicopters low over the protesters in a show of force.
According to The Times, some of the National Guard troops called up to police the protests were just out of basic training, and others had no experience quelling protests.
Some were also given special permission to drive armored vehicles around DC without the proper military licenses, the report said.
According to The Times, some members of the DC Guard — is reportedly made up of over 60% people of color — have been so ashamed of their involvement policing the protests that they’ve kept it a secret from their families.
Another DC Guardsman, First Lt. Malik Jenkins-Bey, told The Times: “It’s a very tough conversation to have when a soldier turns to me and they’re saying, ‘Hey sir, you know my cousin was up there yelling at me, that was my neighbor, my best friend from high school.'”
DC Guard leadership has also warned troops to be careful ordering food, and talking about their work in public, for fear that they may be targeted, according to a mass text seen by The Times.
“Please be vigilant that some of the DC public does not agree with our mission and may have nefarious intention toward our service members,” the text said, according to the newspaper.
The Department of Defense did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
These details appear to back up what another DC Guardsmen said on Tuesday about the Lafayette Park incident.
The unnamed solider told Politico that what he “saw was more or less really f—– up.”
“A lot of us are still struggling to process this, but in a lot of ways, I believe I saw civil rights being violated in order for a photo op,” the Guardsman added.
In a previous report from Business Insider, a DC protester worried that calling up the National Guard had turned the nation’s capital into a military state.
“I’m really concerned that military has been brought in and the National Guard — I think that’s a really radical step,” said Lia Cheek. “Part of me feels like it’s turning into a military state.”
“It’s a sign of who our president is — he likes to control, he likes to bully, and he’s using our military and our people and our tax dollars to bully us and control us, and that’s not OK,” Cheek added.
“We need to keep protesting and using our voices.”
- Read more:
- A number of DC National Guard troops who responded to protests have tested positive for COVID-19
- Washington DC’s Black Lives Matter street mural can be seen from space
- Mitt Romney joined a Black Lives Matter protest in Washington, DC, becoming the first known GOP senator to do so
- Thousands of protesters took to Washington, DC, for the city’s largest demonstration yet over George Floyd’s death