WASHINGTON – The silver-haired woman clutched a protest sign as she methodically made her way down the line of Soldiers. She paused deliberately as she met the gaze of each set of eyes through their face shields, and offered a heartfelt, “thank you for your service.”
“It was very much motivational, and much appreciated,” said a military police officer with the District of Columbia Army National Guard’s 273rd Military Police Company whose name is withheld for security reasons.
The support hit home after days tension supporting a difficult mission, he said.
Daurbigny was part of a National Guard task force supporting civil authorities in providing security throughout Washington as protestors gathered in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
The task force was activated May 30 to ensure the protection of life and property while balancing the right to protest peacefully, said Army Brig. Gen. Robert Ryan, the D.C. Guard’s Land Component commander and the task force commander.
About 1,200 D.C. National Guard members have been activated, said Ryan.
Before this mission, the D.C. Guard members were activated to support COVID-19 response efforts, and many switched directly from that mission to the civil unrest task force.
“We were supporting COVID missions ever since the outbreak happened,” said Daurbigny. “When we were called upon to support the Park Police, the response was very swift. We were able to get all of our Soldiers in, in a matter of hours.”
Guard members have been providing security at national monuments and areas of critical infrastructure as well as ensuring the right to peaceful protest, said Army 1st Lt. Steven Meyer, with the D.C. Army Guard.
“We are here to prevent any danger, vandalism, and property damage to the structures in the area,” he said.
Their efforts did not go unnoticed by Ryan, the highest-ranking officer in the D.C. Army National Guard.
“We are known as the Capital Guardians,” said Ryan. “These Soldiers and Airman have been out here since Saturday [May 30] working 15-hour shifts assisting our law enforcement counterparts…I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
About 3,000 Guard members from other states have joined D.C. National Guard to continue to support law enforcement officials in responding to civil unrest in the capital region, said Guard officials.