The District of Columbia National Guard has activated about 400 troops to stand watch around downtown D.C., a spokesman has confirmed.

National Parks Police have requested back-up, Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Craig Clapper said in a statement, to prevent damage to monuments.

“The District of Columbia National Guard is responding to a request to support law enforcement officials and has dispatched unarmed personnel, with others on stand-by,” Clapper said. “Activated Guardsmen are expected to provide security for local monuments and critical infrastructure.”

Clapper did not immediately respond to a request for clarification on the perceived threat to the monuments or how long the mission would last.

“Since activated, none of the activated National Guard members have been dispatched to actual monument locations to provide assistance to the NPP,” Clapper said. “They remain on standby at the National Guard Armory at this time.”

On Tuesday, local police cleared out tents and other structures erected near the White House, the Washington Post reported, part of an attempt to establish an autonomous zone similar to the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone /Organized Protest that sprung up in Seattle earlier this month.

A protest group on Tuesday unsuccessfully attempted to topple a statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square.

This is the second such mobilization for D.C. Guard troops this month, following weeks of protest response support outside the White House and in other parts of downtown.

Protests have been ongoing at the White House since soon after the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man allegedly murdered by a white police officer in Minneapolis.

At one point, thousands of Guard troops from around the country mobilized to D.C., in addition to three active-duty units who traveled to Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, and Fort Belvoir, Virginia, in anticipation of moving into D.C.

The situation did not call for that, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at the time, but unrest has persisted in downtown D.C.

A 15-6 investigation into a UH-72 Lakota medevac helicopter that hovered over a crowd June 1 is still ongoing.

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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