Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Saturday night joined several other states in mobilizing the National Guard amid protests and riots that have broken out across the country in response to George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody earlier this week.
Abbott activated the National Guard Saturday night, saying: “Texans have every right to exercise their first amendment rights, but violence and looting will not be tolerated.”
MINNESOTA GOVERNOR ACTIVATES THE NATIONAL GUARD
Abbott’s move comes amid protests and riots in Austin and Dallas.
Abbott joined Utah, Ohio and Washington state in bringing in the National Guard to aid law enforcement.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, on Saturday night, tweeted that Utah “condemns violence and looting.”
“I have activated the National Guard to help control the escalating situation in downtown Salt Lake City,” Herbert tweeted. “I once again call on all who are protesting to do so peacefully.”
Earlier Saturday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine also called to service the Ohio National Guard “to help protect the citizens of Ohio.”
Protests erupted in Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio Saturday. Ohio Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, attended a protest earlier in the day Saturday and was sprayed with pepper spray by law enforcement officers.
“In this time of deep anger, sadness, and frustration, we stand with those who are expressing their First Amendment rights, but we will not stand for those who wish to inflict pain and cause destruction,” DeWine tweeted.
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Meanwhile, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee “activated 200 members” at the request of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.
“They will be unarmed and assist with infrastructure protection and crowd movement,” Inslee said in a statement Saturday. “They will only be utilized if absolutely necessary and we appreciate their efforts to help in this important work.”
The District of Columbia National Guard also was activated Saturday night “at the direction of the Secretary of the Army in response to a request for assistance from the U.S. Park Police to help maintain order during protests in the vicinity of the White House,” D.C. National Guard Commanding General MG William J. Walker said in a statement.
“The DCNG, the Nation’s only Federal National Guard, reports to the President of the United States through the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Army,” Walker said. “The DCNG is always ready to assist District and Federal agencies to protect human life and property.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, early Saturday, was dismissive of activating the National Guard in the city amid protests, but laterm during an interview with NBC Los Angeles, said he was considering seeking their help.
“Anything is possible. Absolutely,” Garcetti said when asked, noting he planned to discuss the option with California Gov. Gavin Newsom. “That takes sometime. Sometimes it can take overnight to mobilize.”
The activation of the National Guard in states across the nation comes after Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz already announced early Saturday that he authorized the “full mobilization” of the state’s National Guard in response to violent riots in the state.
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Minnesota’s National Guard is composed of more than 13,000 soldiers, according to the Guard’s 2019 annual report.
Floyd’s death Monday has sparked unrest across the U.S., from New York City to Washington, D.C., to Chicago to Los Angeles. Four Minneapolis police officers were fired Tuesday, while the officer seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes before he eventually died, Derek Chauvin, has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Fox News’ Barnini Chakraborty, Dom Calicchio, Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.