More than 1,000 District of Columbia National Guard troops have been ordered to report to their armory after pro-Trump protesters pushed through police barricades and broke through windows to swarm the building as senators met to certify the 2020 election.
At least one person was shot and killed during the melee, though it’s not clear who pulled the trigger during the chaotic scene.
Meanwhile, inside the House chamber, lawmakers described a harrowing scene.
As they stayed down, they were told to have gas masks at the ready — and take off the lapel pins they wear identifying them as elected representatives.
Police had guns drawn, and furniture barricaded the door.
Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller approved the request for activation, a defense official told Military Times. At this time, the official said, none of them had been ordered to report to the Capitol.
“Chairman Milley and I just spoke separately with the Vice President and with Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Senator Schumer and Representative Hoyer about the situation at the U.S. Capitol,” Miller said in a statement. “We have fully activated the D.C. National Guard to assist federal and local law enforcement as they work to peacefully address the situation. We are prepared to provide additional support as necessary and appropriate as requested by local authorities. Our people are sworn to defend the constitution and our democratic form of government and they will act accordingly.”
The DCNG “has been mobilized to provide support to federal law enforcement in the District,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement. “Acting Secretary Miller has been in contact with congressional leadership, and [Army] Secretary [Ryan] McCarthy has been working with the D.C. government. The law enforcement response will be led by the Department of Justice.”
D.C. Guardsmen are not drawing weapons, a source on the ground, who asked not to be named, told Military Times. They are bringing shields, helmets and other personal protective gear, but no ballistic plates for their vests.
In response to the siege, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced he would also be activating that state’s National Guard troops to respond.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan also announced via tweet he had sent 200 state troopers and 500 guardsmen to respond.
“For operational security reasons, we will not release details on the number of personnel, staging locations or timelines,” Virginia Guard spokesman Alfred Puryear told Military Times.
More than 300 D.C. troops had been activated in anticipation of demonstrations on Tuesday and Wednesday, but had mostly been posted blocking traffic in downtown D.C.
Trump has not invoked the Insurrection Act or suggested calling up active-duty troops, which was a big debate in the White House this summer, when protests in downtown Washington, D.C., turned destructive.
After appearing at a demonstration Wednesday morning and encouraging protesters to march on the Capitol, he tweeted that the local police are “truly on the side of our Country.”
In a televised speech Wednesday afternoon, President-elect Joe Biden called out the protesters, calling the attack “God-awful.”
“Threatening the safety of duly elected officials,” he said. “It’s not protest. It’s insurrection.”
This story contains information from the Associated Press. This is a developing story. Stay with Military Times for updates.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army. He focuses on investigations, personnel concerns and military justice. Davis, also a Guard veteran, was a finalist in the 2023 Livingston Awards for his work with The Texas Tribune investigating the National Guard's border missions. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill.