Thousands of National Guardsmen descended on the Capitol and surrounding buildings after the riots at the Capitol earlier this month. They were there as a show of force and to discourage anyone who was thinking about a repeat performance during the inauguration. You probably remember seeing photos of guard members packed in various hallways and lobbies at the Capitol:
Help spread the love. Restaurants on Capitol Hill have been hit especially hard this past week. We’re working with DC restaurants to feed the #NationalGuard and local police departments. Calling on my friends to help spread the word. Neighbors helping Neighbors pic.twitter.com/h01uZNLi0x
— Spike Mendelsohn (@chefspike) January 16, 2021
Something apparently changed today. The NY Times reports the Guard was kicked out of the Capitol and surrounding buildings and sent to sleep in a parking garage:
Two Guard soldiers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that they had been given no explanation as to why they were being relocated early Thursday afternoon, and said that they were without electrical power, heat and adequate restroom facilities. One Guard soldier estimated that there were 1,000 of them sharing a single portable restroom stationed outside of the parking garage…
The two Guard soldiers said that their fellow soldiers were breathing in exhaust fumes because the garage at the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Center was still in use as a parking facility, and that the soldiers there came from the Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee and Alabama National Guard.
Here’s what that looked like:
National Guard soldiers mobilized for inauguration security have been moved from the Capitol to sleep in a nearby parking garage, which is still in use by vehicles. It’s cold, full of car exhaust, and has one bathroom https://t.co/FzboPgZTvy
— John Ismay (@johnismay) January 22, 2021
MILITARY SOURCE IN DC:
“For the last week my battalion has been sleeping on the floor in the Senate cafeteria. Today the Senate kicked us out & moved us to a cold parking garage.
1 power outlet.
This is how Joe Biden’s America treats solders.”
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) January 22, 2021
Politico spoke to some of the Guard members who felt they had been unceremoniously dumped:
“Yesterday dozens of senators and congressmen walked down our lines taking photos, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service. Within 24 hours, they had no further use for us and banished us to the corner of a parking garage. We feel incredibly betrayed,” the Guardsman said.
The Capitol Hill police told the NY Times, “As Congress is in session and increased foot traffic and business is being conducted, Capitol Police asked the troops to move their rest area outside of the Capitol.” In short, they were in the way. That’s a hell of a way to treat people who, let’s not forget, came to DC because the Capitol Police got overrun by a mob.
You have to wonder if there’s more to this story. Sure, the Capitol Police are in charge but did they make this decision on their own or was someone whispering in their ear about getting the soldiers out of the way? That would not surprise me at all. Sen. Mike Lee said he and his staff were investigating:
Very upset by this story but I have been in touch with the Utah National Guard and they are taken care of. My staff and I are investigating what happened here and will continue working to fix this situation. https://t.co/Fw2ZVv4fgO
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) January 22, 2021
Other members of Congress are saying this is wrong:
I've reached out directly to the Colorado National Guard Commander and our Colorado Guard soldiers are already off mission.
Our Guardmembers deserve to be treated better and I’m going to find out more about why this happened.https://t.co/i76huDX1rX
— Rep. Jason Crow (@RepJasonCrow) January 22, 2021
— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) January 22, 2021
This seems to be making some impact with people so hopefully we’ll get more answers about why this happened.
I’m sure the National Guard is tough enough to sleep on concrete when it’s necessary, but this isn’t necessary. And having 1,000 or more people sharing one porta-potty is ridiculous. These guys deserve more respect than that.