Leaders in the nation's capital are bracing for more demonstrations as the jury began deliberating Monday night in the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd.
The National Guard in Washington got a request from the city for 250 personnel who can support local law enforcement. The Guard members will be unarmed and will assist police with street closures at multiple intersections to help keep pedestrians safe, said Capt. Chelsi Johnson, a D.C. National Guard spokeswoman.
All 250 of the Guard members will be from the D.C. area, she added, and will come from a mix of military occupational specialties.
Acting Army Secretary John Whitley reviewed and approved the request.
"Supporting the Metropolitan Police Department is a part of the portfolio of the D.C. National Guard, and our team is uniquely qualified to conduct this mission," the D.C. National Guard said in a statement to Military.com. "The D.C. National Guard remains strong with soldiers and airmen available to execute its requested missions."
The request was made as the prosecution and defense in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin finished their closing arguments Monday in Minneapolis. The trial started March 29.
Chauvin was charged with murdering Floyd after he was captured on video in May 2020 kneeling on the Black man's neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest. The defense contends that Floyd's health conditions and drug use led to the 46-year-old man's death. The prosecution says Floyd's death was the direct result of Chauvin kneeling forcefully on the man's neck.
Two Guard members in Minneapolis were fired upon Sunday morning as that city, where the trial is taking place, braces for unrest.
Floyd's death led to protests in cities across the country and reignited the national debate on police brutality and racism. It also led military leaders to issue statements of unity and review policies that could inadvertently be discriminating against some troops.
National Guard members have for months been tasked by governors across the country to respond to some of the nationwide protests. That includes in Washington, D.C., where a viral photo taken June 2 showing Guard members lined up on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial raised questions about the role the military should play in First Amendment demonstrations.
The photo was taken a day after low-flying helicopters hovered over protesters in the District -- a tactic typically used in war zones. The incident prompted a monthslong investigation; actions were taken against several personnel involved after the tactics were deemed inappropriate for the situation. Army officials have not disclosed the types of punishments or details about those who were involved.
The new request for troops in Washington comes as thousands still stand guard near the U.S. Capitol, which was violently overrun by supporters of President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, resulting in several deaths. That mission has been extended until at least May 23.