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NAT’L – OPINION – Amid growing civil unrest, National Guard commanders seek to keep troops off front lines

As the third day of protests over the death of George Floyd turned violent across the nation, governors in 24 states and the mayor of the District of Columbia activated tens of thousands of National Guard troops to assist law enforcement in controlling crowds and protecting property from vandalism and arson. But for now, the more than 62,000 military reinforcements have largely been kept away from direct contact with demonstrators, instead protecting facilities, providing traffic control, and providing other backup support so local police can concentrate on confronting the angry mobs. “The National Guard personnel assigned to these missions are trained, equipped, and prepared to assist law enforcement authorities with protecting lives and property of citizens in their state,” said a statement issued by the National Guard Bureau Sunday. “Guardsmen live in the communities they serve and are there to protect their neighbor’s right to protest peacefully.” Guard commanders are acutely aware that Americans are not accustomed to seeing military forces conducting domestic law enforcement, even though the posse comitatus prohibitions do not apply to forces under control of state governors. “Although we do have the authority under the governor’s executive order to do law enforcement, we were not in a position and didn’t have to,” said Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden, adjutant general of the Georgia National Guard, in a conference call for reporters Sunday afternoon. But Carden said calling on Guard troops to quell civil unrest should be a last resort. “I believe that we in America should not get used to or accept uniformed service members of any variety having to be put in a position where they are having to secure people inside the United States of America,” he said. “While we’re glad to do it and honored to do it, this is a sign of the times that we need to do better as a country.”  [full article]

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