DeWine to activate National Guard for deployment in state, US capital

‘We’re very concerned,’ governor says of planned armed protests.

Gov. Mike DeWine will activate hundreds of members of the Ohio National Guard for deployment in the state and U.S. capitals.

DeWine announced his plan Tuesday during a regular press briefing on the coronavirus pandemic.

He said he will sign an order to authorize up to 580 Ohio National Guard soldiers and airmen on state active duty for training to be available as needed by state and local law enforcement. In addition, 200 will deploy to Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, where they will be among about 15,000 National Guard members from across the country activated to help provide security ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

“This is an activation of members of the National Guard to bring them up to the highest level that is needed and to be available for use in Washington, D.C., and the state of Ohio,” DeWine said.

The Ohio National Guard also is providing personnel and equipment for communications and food service during the inauguration, said Stephanie Beougher, public information officer of the adjutant general’s department of the Ohio National Guard office of public affairs.

The authorization follows a warning from the FBI about possible armed protests planned at all 50 state capitals and in Washington, protests that are believed to start later this week and run through Inauguration Day.

The protests follow riots that erupted last week at the U.S. Capitol building and led to the deaths of five people, including a police officer, when the mob stormed the building and forced members of Congress to take cover.

As concerns grow over potential Inauguration Day violence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday canceled what would have been his final official trip abroad to Brussels.

The activation of the Ohio National Guard members is from Jan. 14 to Jan. 20, but could be expanded as needed, DeWine said.

This is step one, DeWine said of the activation, and added that he has been following the advice of Maj. Gen. John Harris Jr., Ohio’s 83rd Adjutant General and cabinet member, regarding the number of National Guard members activated so far.

The governor said the goal of the activation is peace and protection against those with violent intentions, both in Ohio and in Washington, D.C.

“People have the right to protest. They do not have the right to be destructive. They do not have the right to hurt other people,” he said.

“But we all saw what happened at the U.S. Capitol. We’re very concerned,” DeWine said.

DeWine supported President Donald Trump before the election but was one of the first Republican governors to acknowledge that Biden had won the presidential race. DeWine faced criticism for that from Trump supporters, and he has faced protests from groups opposed to his actions to limit the spread of the coronavirus during the pandemic.

Although Trump encouraged his supporters to march to the U.S. Capitol during a rally before the rioting, he said Tuesday that his speech was “totally appropriate” and that he was not to blame for the breach of the building and violence.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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