The failure of Democratic leaders in Illinois to call in the National Guard to quell violence last summer during demonstrations against alleged police brutality led to upwards of $20 million in damage — but at long last, it looks like they’re finally sending them in.
According to Breitbart, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) is deploying 500 of the state’s National Guard troops to the nation’s capital amid what the Department of Homeland Security has called a “heightened threat environment across the United States.”
“The U.S. Department of Defense has asked Illinois to assist federal and local agencies in this continued effort, and Major General [Rich] Neely and I are ready to ensure that the state of Illinois continues its proud legacy of protecting our democracy,” Pritzker told a Chicago newspaper Friday, according to Breitbart.
Deployed “with honor”
According to the Chicago Tribune, the Department of Homeland Security had said “some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition…could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence” in Washington.
Pritzker’s move in response comes as security on the U.S. Capitol grounds has been heightened in the wake of a deadly riot there on Jan. 6. The area around the White House has also been fortified, and National Guard troops have been in Washington since before President Joe Biden’s inauguration to keep the peace.
Three hundred Guardsmen from Illinois had previously been sent to the capital, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Now, it seems the troops will be there for quite some time. According to Breitbart, the newly deployed Guardsmen aren’t expected to return to Illinois until mid-March.
“Ultimately, we must root out the dark forces of racism, white supremacy, and disinformation that have created this moment, but until we do that, our extraordinary troops will deploy with honor,” Gov. Pritzker said Friday, according to Breitbart.
A “wrongheaded” move?
In addition to helping provide security in D.C., members of the Illinois National Guard have been helping distribute the coronavirus vaccine in the state. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Guard said Pritzker’s decision to send hundreds of troops to Washington “will not impact the Illinois National Guard’s ability to perform the vaccination distribution.”
“We are deploying these forces in support of civilian law enforcement based on threat-levels against the U.S. Capitol,” Maj. Gen. Neely, who serves as commander of the Illinois National Guard, said, according to the Tribune. “We have asked a lot of them in the last year and each time these men and women have answered the call and upheld their oath to defend and support the U.S. Constitution.”
But while it may be the right move, Pritzker’s deployment of the Guard to D.C. marks a stark contrast to his attitude in the summer of 2020; in its report, Breitbart called the governor out on his hypocrisy in light of his decision to withhold the Guard amid riots in Chicago.
In fact, Pritzker was one of the first officials to reject then-President Donald Trump’s offer to deploy the U.S. military to tamp down on the violence. The Democrat claimed that such a move was “wrongheaded” and that Trump would look like a “dictator” if he sent the troops in, according to reports. If only Pritzker could see himself now.