US shocked after National Guardsmen kicked out of Capitol Building and forced to lodge at parking lot after inauguration
The US Capitol Police are in hot water again, after ordering National Guardsmen protecting the Capitol in Washington, DC to leave and find accommodation elsewhere. The decision was overturned hours later amid a public outcry.
Almost 26,000 National Guard troops were flown and bussed to the US capital from all around the country after the January 6 riot. The unprecedented military surge made Washington, DC look like a US-occupied foreign city such as Fallujah, according to some commenters. Joe Biden’s inauguration day came and passed without any public disturbances.
The special security event announced by the US Secret Service for the inauguration ceremony ended at noon on Thursday. Somebody in the US Capitol Police then seemingly decided it was high time for National Guard troops to vacate the Capitol Building, where they had been quartered for two weeks.
Remember all those photos of National Guard members snoozing in the Capitol building?Well, they've since been kicked out of the Senate office buildings and are being forced to sleep in congressional parking garages now https://t.co/Cg6v4GmNHbpic.twitter.com/mbgJKqESmb— Jared Keller (@jaredbkeller) January 22, 2021
Hundreds of Guardsmen were suddenly expelled and forced to look for a new place to sleep – including in the nearby congressional parking garages. The troops there suffered from shortages of restrooms and sockets to charge devices, plus exhaust fumes, overcrowding, and other issues. Understandably, the eviction left many of them with a feeling of humiliation and betrayal.
“It’s f**ked up because it just shows how politicians really feel about the National Guard,” one of them told Task & Purpose. “Leaving our families for the last two weeks to come down here … it’s certainly important and historic, but the day after inauguration you kick us literally to the curb? Come on, man.”
“The next time DC calls, we will let it go to voicemail,” a soldier interviewed by Military Times joked.
REPORT from the parking garage where National Guard troops were re-assigned to take breaks instead of the US Capitol. Good news is they are allowed back & are packing up here. We brought hot soup that we are giving as they get onto buses & will serve back at the Capitol as well! pic.twitter.com/yb2cUk1XLF— World Central Kitchen (@WCKitchen) January 22, 2021
Images of soldiers napping on the ground in a parking lot unleashed a wave of public fury. Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle offered the Guardsmen their offices as lodging.
Simply unacceptable. You’re always welcome in my office. As a former Iowa National Guard member, I know how hard it is to wear those boots. Thank you for your service everyday. https://t.co/WNjSEsQUMV— Joni Ernst (@SenJoniErnst) January 22, 2021
Yeah this is not okay.My office is free this week to any service members who’d like to use it for a break or take nap on the couch. We’ll stock up on snacks for you all too.(We’re in the middle of moving offices and it’s a bit messy so don’t judge, but make yourself at home!) https://t.co/JyEvC4kg6o— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 22, 2021
Congressman Madison Cawthorn visited the troops with some pizzas and an assurance that no soldier will sleep on a garage floor as long as he has something to say about it.
I just visited the solders who have been abandoned & insulted by our leaders. I brought them pizza and told them that they can sleep in my office.No soldier will ever, ever sleep on a garage floor in the US Capitol while I work in CongressOur Troops deserve better. pic.twitter.com/4attFqhRRJ— Madison Cawthorn (@CawthornforNC) January 22, 2021
Other politicians seized the opportunity for some partisan bickering as they blamed the other side for the mistreatment of the troops.
Kevin, American troops are in the Capitol because you, along with 138 other members of your caucus, helped to incite the violent insurrection on January 6th. https://t.co/G61bNlqS3x— Mondaire Jones (@MondaireJones) January 22, 2021
Hours after the story was first broken by Politico – and seemingly with quite a few phone calls involved – the Capitol Police apologized to the Guardsmen and allowed them back into the Capitol Building.
“Because of the MASSIVE backlash over this, we are now being allowed back into the Senate building,” a soldier told Military Times. “We’re going to make a big show of marching back into the building.”
It remains unclear why the troops were kicked out from the Capitol in the first place, the incident has exposed the Capitol Police to fresh criticism. The force is already under fire due its failure to anticipate the Capitol riot and dispatch enough troops to prevent Donald Trump’s supporters from breaking into the national legislature. Chief Steven Sund resigned after the January 6 fiasco.
The scandal comes as the National Guard pulls back its troops from Washington following the inauguration surge. Thousands have already left, though the Guard expects it may take up to 10 days to complete the drawdown. Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that his state’s troops will be returning home on Thursday night, though it was not clear if the order was scheduled or a response to the garage situation.
I have instructed General Norris to order the return of the Texas National Guard to our state. @TexasGuard— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 22, 2021
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!