Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Monday rejected a request from the Trump administration to send his state’s National Guard to help quell heated protesters and riots in Washington, D.C., sparked by the death of George Floyd.
“I am not going to send our men and women in uniform of a very proud National Guard to Washington for a photo-op,” Northam said during a Tuesday press conference in Richmond.
Northam reportedly refused a request for troops in a Monday call with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, citing concern that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser was unaware of the matter, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The Pentagon reportedly asked Virginia to deploy between 3,000 and 5,000 National Guard members to the nation’s capital.
“When this request came in, we quickly learned it had not been made at Mayor Bower’s request or coordinated with her, and we have heightened concern based on the President’s remarks that the Administration is looking to use the Guard to escalate — not deescalate — the situation,” said Northam chief of staff Clark Mercer.
On Monday evening, the streets of D.C. were largely under control after President Donald Trump deployed the National Guard to the city. There were only minor instances of violence, with several shop windows smashed on 14th Street. A CVS store was also reportedly raided by looters. Police arrested dozens of protesters in the city for violating the city’s 7:00 p.m. curfew.
Earlier Monday, President Trump delivered a stern statement in the Rose Garden about his administration’s next steps to prevent further unrest in D.C. and across the U.S.
“My first and highest duty as president is to defend our great country and the American people,” the president said. “I swore an oath to uphold the laws of our nation and that is exactly what I will do.”
“If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” he added.
Earlier Tuesday, the Pentagon said 1,500 more National Guard troops from other states would be sent tonight to D.C.