Washington, DC – The governors of Florida, Texas, and New Hampshire ordered their National Guardsmen that helped provide security for the Inauguration to return home on Friday morning after they were kicked out of the U.S. Capitol and told to sleep in a parking garage.
Guardsmen told Politico that they were resting in the Dirksen Senate Office Building (DSOB) on Thursday when they were suddenly told to get up and move to a parking garage.
Most of the National Guard troops have been on duty in the nation’s capital since the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.
The group of 5,000 National Guardsmen were sent to a nearby parking garage to get their rest, Politico reported.
The parking garage had no Internet, only one electrical outlet, and one bathroom with two stalls for use by the thousands of troops.
And if you want to use the bathroom, well pic.twitter.com/YXLawaqA0Q
— Alex Horton (@AlexHortonTX) January 22, 2021
“Yesterday dozens of senators and congressmen walked down our lines taking photos, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service. Within 24 hours, they had no further use for us and banished us to the corner of a parking garage. We feel incredibly betrayed,” one of the National Guard members told Politico.
Another Guardsman explained that the troops were told to vacate the U.S. Capitol and nearby House and Senate office buildings on Jan. 21 and to set up mobile command centers outside or in nearby hotels.
“As Congress is in session and increased foot traffic and business is being conducted, Capitol Police asked the troops to move their rest area,” National Guard Spokesman Matt Murphy said. “They were temporarily relocated to the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Center garage with heat and restroom facilities. We remain an agile and flexible force to provide for the safety and security of the Capitol and its surrounding areas.”
Temperatures in DC hovered near freezing overnight.
When some lawmakers learned what was going on, they were outraged, Politico reported.
Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer—why are American troops who are tasked with keeping security at the Capitol being forced to sleep in a parking lot?
They deserve to be treated with respect, and we deserve answers. pic.twitter.com/J0R2dRC8bM
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) January 22, 2021
The blame game for the poor decision to move the troops started immediately, and fingers were pointed at the new acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP).
But FOX News reported that U.S. Capitol Acting Police Chief Yogananda Pittman quickly denied responsibility for kicking the exhausted soldiers out of the buildings they had been protecting and instead, put out a strange statement about having requested the troops be given shorter shifts and no rest time.
A) USCP on National Guard at Capitol after some soldiers were moved to a parking garage: “The United States Capitol Police immensely appreciates the integral support of the U.S. National Guard..”
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) January 22, 2021
“I want to assure everyone that, with the exception of specific times on Inauguration Day itself while the swearing-in ceremonies were underway, the United States Capitol Police did not instruct the National Guard to vacate the Capitol Building facilities,” Chief Pittman said in a statement. “And on Inauguration Day, the Guard was notified and encouraged to reoccupy the spaces in the Capitol and CVC at 2 p.m.”
The Capitol Police chief made it clear that her officers had not asked the National Guardsmen to move to a parking garage, FOX News reported.
“It was brought to our attention early today that facility management with the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Office Building reached out directly to the National Guard to offer use of its facilities,” she claimed.
The legislators who had been protected by the National Guardsmen for the past two weeks expressed outrage at the troops’ treatment.
“Just made a number of calls and have been informed Capitol Police have apologized to the Guardsmen and they will be allowed back into the complex tonight,” U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) told Politico. “I’ll keep checking to make sure they are.”
Duckworth lost both of her legs when she was an Army National Guard lieutenant colonel serving the U.S. military in Iraq.
I just visited the solders who have been abandoned & insulted by our leaders. I brought them pizza and told them that they can sleep in my office.
No soldier will ever, ever sleep on a garage floor in the US Capitol while I work in Congress
Our Troops deserve better. pic.twitter.com/4attFqhRRJ
— Madison Cawthorn (@CawthornforNC) January 22, 2021
It was almost midnight when, under extreme pressure from a bipartisan raft of angry members of Congress, the National Guardsmen were authorized to re-enter the Capitol complex buildings by the Capitol Police watch commander, FOX News reported.
“Brigadier General Janeen Birckhead, Inauguration Task Force Commander, confirms that troops are out of the garage and back into the Capitol building as authorized by the USCP Watch Commander and the troops will take their breaks near Emancipation Hall going forward,” Air Force Maj. Matthew Murphy, a National Guard Bureau spokesman, told the Military Times. “Our troops are going to hotel rooms or other comfortable accommodations at the end of their shifts.”
WATCH: National Guard troops leave the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Center garage after U.S. Capitol Police temporarily relocated their rest area. Troops have since returned to the Capitol. – @MoshehNBC pic.twitter.com/ZpL1RxbY3a
— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 22, 2021
An incensed National Guard soldier in the parking garage tells me he doesn’t want to go back inside the Capitol at this point. He says, “We’ll set up our rest area on the grounds on the grass in full view of the public.” https://t.co/gGbao3YYiA
— Bill Rehkopf (@BillRehkopf) January 22, 2021
REPORT from the parking garage where National Guard troops were re-assigned to take breaks instead of the US Capitol. Good news is they are allowed back & are packing up here. We brought hot soup that we are giving as they get onto buses & will serve back at the Capitol as well! pic.twitter.com/yb2cUk1XLF
— World Central Kitchen (@WCKitchen) January 22, 2021
Furious at the treatment their National Guardsmen had received, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, and New Hampshire Governor John Sununu ordered their troops to return home on Friday, FOX News reported.
Last night, I ordered our Adjutant General to bring Florida National Guard soldiers home from the National Capital Region.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) January 22, 2021
Sununu said the National Guard “should be graciously praised, not subject to substandard conditions.”
This was not the first time that National Guardsmen were treated poorly while serving in the nation’s capital.
In June of 2020, following the Black Lives Matter riots in front of the White House, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser kicked National Guardsmen out of the hotels where they had been lodged and into the street with no alternative accommodations.
National Guardsmen finishing shifts protecting Washington, DC from the rioting, burning, and looting that occurred several nights in a row returned to their hotel rooms at a downtown Marriott at 3 a.m. on June 5 to be greeted with the news that they had to be checked out by 11 a.m. that morning, according to a press release from the office of U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah).
The troops had been assigned to occupy empty hotel rooms that had been set aside for use by pandemic patients if needed.
Bowser tried to deny that she’d kicked the exhausted Guardsmen out of their beds and claimed she had asked President Donald Trump to send them home and said her problem was with who was paying for the hotel rooms.