WASHINGTON - The law and order message the Trump administration tried to send on Monday with a show of force in the nation’s capital amid the protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death fell on deaf ears among some governors who were asked to send their National Guard to assist.
The District’s close neighbor, Virginia, was among those states.
On Tuesday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam – who has been very critical of the President’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic – said he refrained from sending the state’s National Guard because he objected to the message the White House was sending.
“The message regrettably was not one of healing, it was not one of unity, it was one of divisiveness – and I regret that, coming from the leader of the most powerful nation in the world,” Northam said.
The administration notably used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse reportedly peaceful protesters in order to pave the way for the president’s walk to St. John’s Church.
The historic church, along with the lobby of the AFL-CIO building, was burned during unrest Sunday night.
The president walked from the White House to the church and then posed with a Bible in hand.
Northam joined some other leaders in criticizing the move as a mere photo op.
“I am not going to send our men and women in uniform — a very proud National Guard — to Washington for a photo op,” Northam said.
Northam also noted on Tuesday that he wasn’t invited by Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser – who was also critical of the administration’s move.
Bowser also sharply criticized the crowd suppression methods on Monday.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is sending 116 members of the National Guard to be stationed on the National Mall. Hogan spokesman Michael Ricci said they will be used in support of the D.C. National Guard and the U.S. Capitol Police and “are not there in any law enforcement capacity.”