‘Prudent planning measure’: Pentagon flies 1,600 active-duty troops into DC area to be on standby as protests continue
“Active duty elements are postured on military bases in the National Capitol Region but are not in Washington DC,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman said in a statement, adding that the soldiers are on “heightened alert status” but “are not participating in defense support to civil authority operations.”
JUST IN: "The Department of Defense moved multiple active duty Army units into the National Capitol Region as a prudent planning measure in response to ongoing support to civil authorities operations." pic.twitter.com/t9JqfZWVnY— Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox) June 3, 2020
In a message to the military on Tuesday night, Defense Secretary Mark Esper called on the troops to “stay apolitical,” apparently urging them not to take sides in the heated protests, which were sparked by the death of Floyd, an unarmed black man killed in police custody in Minneapolis last week.
Defense Sec Mark Esper in a message Tues night to US military: 'Stay apolitical' pic.twitter.com/Gev64gU7ac— Missy Ryan (@missy_ryan) June 3, 2020
Many of the demonstrations, which have broken out in dozens of cities in recent days, have become violent, descending into looting and arson and prompting authorities in some locations to call in National Guard reinforcements, including in DC. Though Tuesday’s protest in the capital has remained largely peaceful, demonstrators still on the streets are now violating the city’s 7pm curfew, putting them at risk of arrest.
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