Utah National Guardsmen Evicted From DC Hotels
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Washington D.C.’s mayor has asked President Donald Trump to remove federal and military personnel sent to the city in light of protests, including 200 Utah National Guard troops that were activated.
However, Sen. Mike Lee said the mayor was ungrateful after evicting troops from their hotels.
Lee fired a tweet Thursday at D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser saying that 1,200 hundred troops from 10 states were being evicted.
Bowser had asked the president to withdraw troops, saying tensions had de-escalated and the troops’ presence was inflaming protesters.
“I think this was a slap in the face and certainly poor form,” Lee told KSL NewsRadio’s Lee Lonsberry.
Just heard that Mayor Bowser is kicking the Utah National Guard out of all DC hotels tomorrow. More than 1200 troops from 10 states are being evicted. This is unacceptable. 1/2
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) June 5, 2020
The troops were sent in on Monday and have spent long nights standing guard near monuments and protesters.
Lee called Bowser’s decision to have the troops moved unacceptable, saying they were being kicked to the curb by an ungrateful mayor.
Bowser responded in a tweet to Lee that national guardsmen can stay in D.C. hotels until the president sends them home, but the city won’t be paying for the bill.
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) June 5, 2020
Officials with the Utah National Guard said those 200 service members have been relocated to another hotel.
Lee said if the mayor has a problem with the president that she should take it up with him, not our troops.
“Tonight they will be able to check into another hotel across the river in Virginia,” Lee said. “This is all great, but they were set up perfectly fine and well where they were, just a few blocks from where they have been assigned to protect Washington D.C. Makes no sense to me that they should be kicked out.”
Utah National Guard officials said some troops were staying at the Marriott Marquis in downtown D.C.
In a statement to KSL, U.S. Army Master Sergeant W. Michael Houk said, “The DCNG currently has about 1,200 National Guardsmen activated, and another 3,900 members from other states are or will be supporting. States are: Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.
“Some National Guard responders were quartering in hotel accommodations which had preexisting contractual agreements with the District. Out of respect for existing agreements those facilities have with the city government, those service members have relocated. For further information, please contact city government.”
Bowser replied to Lee’s tweet on Friday, saying in part that D.C. would not pay for their stay and not rely on hotel rooms reserved by the city for COVID-19 support personnel.
“At no time did they intend or be able to effect evicting the guardsmen,” Bowser said.
KSL reached out to the Bowser’s office but did not get an immediate response.
Senator Mitt Romney’s office also weighed in on the matter, saying they were working to resolve the situation.
“It was a quick deployment to get out here,” said Utah National Guard Major Brent Mangum from D.C.
Since Tuesday morning, 200 Utah national guardsmen have been scrubbing, painting and picking up trash in the nation’s capital.
“Dealing with protesters, it hasn’t been bad,” Mangum said.
Utah’s troops were part of 5,100 service members from 11 states that were activated by the president to help officers keep the peace after last weekend’s violent protests against police brutality.
“We’re used to this kind of stuff. I mean, that’s the army and our guys are in really good spirits,” Mangum said, adding that they had received a lot of support from National Guard officials in D.C.
The painting and clean-up were something troops volunteered to do.
“Got, maybe, three hours of sleep, then went out and we were out all night at the park,” Mangum said. “In the morning saw an opportunity to help. That’s all it was an opportunity to serve.”
But troops have faced backlash from protesters.
“The majority of the things that were thrown were water bottles and milk bottles,” Mangum said.
For now, Mangum said his men will carry on.
“As I’m going to bed at night, and saying my prayers it’s for the safety of my soldiers but also for protesters,” Mangum said.
Mangum pointed out a statement from U.S. Army officials, including Sergeant Major of the Army, Michael A. Grinston.
“Every Soldier and Department of the Army Civilian swears an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” the statement said. “That includes the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. We will continue to support and defend those rights, and we will continue to protect Americans, whether from enemies of the United States overseas, from COVID-19 at home, or from violence in our communities that threatens to drown out the voices begging us to listen.”
Lee said he expects the troops to be in D.C. for a few more days, depending on the response to Bowser’s petition from the White House.
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