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California National Guard Arrive In San Diego Days After Weekend Violence

Members of the California National Guard are among the uniformed presence in ...

Photo by Steve Walsh

Above: Members of the California National Guard are among the uniformed presence in front of the La Mesa Police station, June 4, 2020.

Days after the weekend violence over the last weekend of May, two hundred military police and other National Guard troops rolled into San Diego County late Wednesday.

Thursday morning military police from the National Guard in Long Beach stood watch over a mostly empty city hall and police station complex in La Mesa. The city had been the site of looting over the weekend. It's been mainly quiet as the week goes on, as it has in most of San Diego County, as protesters and police have worked to avoid confrontation. The troops arrived without public notice late Wednesday night, catching even some La Mesa police off guard. County Sheriff Bill Gore requested the guard.

“By using the National Guard to protect infrastructure, that frees up our deputies to keep those demonstrations peaceful and allow us to address any detractors in the group,” Gore told KPBS Midday Edition.

“The Guard generally secures key routes, facilities or any other location that allows law enforcement officers to move about and enforce local and state law,” according to a statement released by Lt. Colonel Jonathan M. Shiroma, director of public affairs for the California Military Department.

“Soldiers may detain people, rather than arrest people, as authorized by applicable law. As soon as practical, CNG Soldiers will then transition any person under their temporary control to the custody of civilian law enforcement.”

The soldiers include elements of the 143rd Military Police Battalion, the 640th Military Police Battalion and the 140th Chemical Company.

Roughly half of the 200 troops will guard sites in LaMesa, Gore said.

The military police were seen carrying the standard issue M-4 carbine, which is basically a smaller, lighter version of the Vietnam era M-16. Some guard MPs also carried restraints, but Gore said they will not make arrests. Gore said some of them may guard the county building in downtown San Diego.

Others may not be used at all.

Listen to this story by Steve Walsh.

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Photo of Steve Walsh

Steve Walsh
Military Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover military and veterans issues for KPBS and American Homefront, a partnership of public radio stations and NPR. I cover issues ranging from delpoying troops along the California border to efforts to lower suicide rates among veterans.

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