Washington — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved requests from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Capitol Police for National Guard assistance ahead of trucker protests expected to arrive in the area soon.
Up to 700 National Guard personnel will be deployed to help control traffic at designated traffic posts and points leading to the Capitol. This includes 400 members of the D.C. National Guard and nearly 300 other Guard members from New Jersey, Vermont and West Virginia, who will arrive "no later than February 26."
Truck drivers protesting vaccine requirements are expected to depart Pennsylvania on Wednesday morning and drive to the D.C. area, arriving late Wednesday or Thursday. The demonstration protesting vaccine requirements and other issues is.
"The people who live, work and visit the District are part of our community, and their safety is our first mission priority," Major General Sherrie McCandless, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, said in a statement. "Our MPD and USCP partners have asked for our help in ensuring people can demonstrate peacefully and safely, and we stand ready to assist."
An organizer from the Scranton, Pennsylvania, area told CBS News he has "many" commitments for the protest against vaccine requirements and any other issues, and that they plan to block the D.C. Beltway but not drive into the city. That could complicate commutes for those who live in neighboring Virginia and Maryland. The Virginia State Police and Maryland State Police tell CBS News they are monitoring the situation.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday said the Department of Homeland Security and the administration broadly are tracking reports about the potential convoy.
"We have been working, including from Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall here, as well as our Homeland Security Department, closely with our federal, state, and local partners to continuously assess the threat environment and keep our communities safe," Psaki said. "And our efforts include enhanced intelligence sharing, a Critical Incident Response Plan for the U.S. Capitol, a regional security assessment, and a simulation experiment that developed data-driven recommendations to bolster regional security. So, we are closely monitoring, closely watching, and working with state and local authorities."
Scott MacFarlane contributed reporting.
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