National guard troops to be deployed in DC as trucker convoy protests loom

The Pentagon is expected to approve the deployment of 700 to 800 unarmed national guard troops to the nation’s capital, a US official said on Tuesday, in the face of trucker convoys that are planning protests against pandemic restrictions beginning next week.

The District of Columbia government and the US Capitol police are requesting the national guard assistance. The troops would be used largely to help control traffic and are expected to come from the district’s national guard and three states, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss aid not yet formally approved.

Modeled after recent trucker protests in Canada, separate truck convoys have been planned through online forums with names like the People’s Convoy and the American Truckers Freedom Fund – all with different starting points, departure dates and routes. Some are scheduled to arrive in time for Joe Biden’s State of the Union address next Tuesday, 1 March, though others may arrive afterward.

John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the DC government and Capitol police had requested national guard personnel “to provide support at traffic control points in and around the district” and stand ready in case of “possible disruptions at key traffic arteries”. He too said no formal decision on the requests had been made.

The convoys follow the recent Canadian truckers’ protest that shut down the busiest US Canadian border crossing and besieged the streets of the capital, Ottawa, for weeks to protest government pandemic restrictions. The multiple blockades were broken up by police last week, with more than 100 arrests.

Ottawa trucker protest: pepper spray and scuffles as police try to clear capital – video
Ottawa trucker protest: pepper spray and scuffles as police try to clear capital – video

It remains to be seen if any of the US convoys would seek to actively shut down Washington’s streets, the way their Canadian counterparts did in Ottawa. Some convoy organizers have spoken of plans to briefly roll through the city, then focus on shutting down…

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