President Donald Trump had tweeted Sunday morning that he had ordered the National Guard to start the process of withdrawing from Washington DC, after peaceful protests.
"They will be going home, but can quickly return, if needed. Far fewer protesters showed up last night than anticipated!" Trump tweeted.
About 5,000 National Guard troops were called to patrol the nation's capital, that is 3,900 out-of-state National Guard troops from 11 states, and 1,200 DC based Guard troops over the ongoing protests against police killing of George Floyd, a black man who died at the hands of a white officer in Minneapolis.
However, there were no specifications in Trump's tweet whether he meant that all National Guard forces be withdrawn or was he just referring to the out-of-state troops to leave. The presence of out-of-state forces was a point of contention between Washington officials and the administration.
Ryan McCarthy, Secretary of the Army said on Sunday that the out-of-state National Guard would start going home at 5 pm ET, on Sunday.
The Pentagon did not want to use the active duty troops in order to quell unrest in the US capital McCarthy said. The invocation of the Insurrection Act that allowed usage of such troops was "heavily discussed" within the Trump administration.
"They were on the outskirts cause we didn't want to do it. The Department of Defense didn't want to do it because we knew once we went to that escalation, it's very, very difficult," he told CNN reporters on a phone call. He referred to the some 1,600 active duty soldiers that had been flown to bases in the DC area.
DC Mayor's Letter
In a letter to the President on Friday, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser argued, additional law enforcement were "inflaming" and "adding to the grievances" of people protesting after Floyd's death.
"The protestors have been peaceful, and last night, the Metropolitan Police Department did not make a single arrest. Therefore, I am requesting that you withdraw all extraordinary law enforcement and military presence from Washington, DC," read Bowser's letter, she also added that she ended the state of emergency in DC related to the protests.
Trump attacked the DC mayor in response in a tweet on Friday that she was "fighting" with the Guard and warning that if she didn't treat the service members "well" he would bring in a "different group of men and women."
The Next day, Bowser joined thousands of protesters in DC on Saturday.
"We should all be watching what's happening in Washington, DC, because we don't want the federal government to do this to any other Americans," Bowser said while walking through downtown DC with protesters on Saturday.
(With agency inputs)