Joe Biden Apologises After National Guards Made To Sleep In Car Park
More than 25,000 National Guard troops were deployed to Washington DC ahead of Biden's inauguration ceremony on Wednesday following the violent scenes in the US capital earlier in the month.
However, the photographs that were widely shared on social media on Thursday showed large numbers of them sleeping in a parking garage.
Politicians and the public were outraged by the conditions forced upon the service personnel, and some state governors even went as far as to recall the soldiers following the controversy.
Our troops deserve the utmost honor & respect for securing the Capitol & defending democracy this week.- Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) January 22, 2021
This is unconscionable & unsafe. Whoever's decision this was to house our National Guardsmen & women in underground parking lots must be held accountable. pic.twitter.com/mBwpoog6YC
US media reports that President Biden made a telephone call to the head of the National Guard Bureau on Friday to apologise and ask what he could do to help.
First Lady Jill Biden also visited the troops to bring them some biscuits from the White House as a gift.
She told them: "I just wanted to come today to say thank you to all of you for keeping me and my family safe."
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott tweeted: "Our troops deserve the utmost honor [sic] & respect for securing the Capitol & defending democracy this week.
"This is unconscionable & unsafe. Whoever's decision this was to house our National Guardsmen & women in underground parking lots must be held accountable."
New York representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez also said: "Yeah this is not okay.
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"My office is free this week to any service members who'd like to use it for a break or take nap on the couch. We'll stock up on snacks for you all too.
She added: "We're in the middle of moving offices and it's a bit messy so don't judge, but make yourself at home!"
Amongst the chief concerns for the servicemen and women was the fact that they were exposed to car fumes and left without anywhere to access facilities such as toilets and showers, as well as the cramped conditions not allowing soldiers to socially distance.
An anonymous US official told Reuters news agency that between 100 and 200 of those deployed tested positive for Covid-19.
Democratic Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said that the incident was 'an outrage' and promised that it 'will never happen again'.
A National Guard spokesperson confirmed that the troops were moved to the garage on Thursday because of 'increased foot traffic' following the return of Congress.
Yogananda Pittman, the acting chief of the Capitol Police, said that her agency 'did not instruct the National Guard to vacate the Capitol Building facilities' despite contradictory reports from two officers to the Associated Press news agency.
Troops were allowed to return to the Capitol on Thursday after the decision was reversed.
Featured Image Credit: CNN
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