ST. PAUL — A contingent of Minnesota National Guard troops will deploy to Washington, D.C., to help defend the capital during President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.
The state National Guard was asked for its support over the weekend amid growing concern that violence will again erupt there as it did last week, when a mob of President Donald Trump's supporters violently overtook the Capitol building.
"The Minnesota National Guard is a planning organization and is constantly preparing for contingency operations, ensuring we're ready to support when called upon," Minnesota National Guard Director of Operations Col. Scott Rohweder said in a statement Monday, Jan. 11.
Similar requests have been made of the National Guards in other states ahead of Inauguration Day. Groups of armed protesters like the ones responsible for last week's events are said to be planning a second demonstration in Washington in the runup to Jan. 20, Reuters reports, and may amass in all 50 state capitals as well.
Pro-Trump protest plans are being made even as the president faces calls from lawmakers and other public officials to resign or be impeached for whipping the crowd at a rally in D.C. into a frenzy on Jan. 6. Rioters stormed the Capitol building, and four people died. They had been gathered to protest Biden's victory in a presidential race Trump has baselessly condemned as fraudulent.
The FBI warns that state capitals could be targeted for additional protests Jan. 16 through Jan. 20, while protests in D.C. could begin in the three days leading up to Inauguration Day.
Up to 15,000 National Guard troops could be deployed to the nation's capital for the formal transition of power between the Trump and Biden administrations next week, National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Daniel Hokanson told reporters last week. Approximately 10,000 troops were to take their place in D.C. by Saturday, Jan. 9, Hokanson said, and would focus on supporting security, logistics and communications.
In his statement, Rohweder, of the Minnesota National Guard, said he expects to receive additional mission details this week. It was unclear Monday how many troops from Minnesota will deploy to Washington, when they may do so or for how long.
The state National Guard had been asked to provide a company's worth of support, according to spokesperson Maj. Melanie Johnson, who said company-sized formations typically consist of about 100 troops.
Some 13,000 soldiers and airmen serve in the Minnesota National Guard, so sparing 100 for the mission in D.C. likely wouldn't impact its ability to assist public safety agencies in St. Paul should violence break out here. Guard members previously assisted local authorities in the Twin Cities area during the riots following George Floyd's death in police custody.