The Pentagon approved the deployment of 700 unarmed National Guard troops to the nation’s capital as it prepares for trucker convoys that are planning protests against pandemic restrictions, reports the Associated Press. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved the request from the District of Columbia government and the U.S. Capitol Police. The troops would be used to assist with traffic control during demonstrations expected in the coming days, the Pentagon said. Four hundred Guard members from the District of Columbia Guard will be joined by 300 Guard members from other states. Guard members will not carry firearms or take part in law enforcement or domestic-surveillance activities, the Pentagon said.
Modeled after recent trucker protests in Canada, separate truck convoys have been planned through online forums with names like the People’s Convoy and the American Truckers Freedom Fund — all with different starting points, departure dates and routes. Some are scheduled to arrive in time for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1. The convoys follow the recent Canadian truckers’ protest which shut down the busiest U.S.-Canadian border crossing and besieged the streets of the capital, Ottawa, for weeks to protest government pandemic restrictions. The multiple blockades were broken up by police last week, with more than 100 arrests.