As violence broke out following peaceful protests over the weekend, Governor Kevin Stitt activated the Oklahoma National Guard.
“Our motto is ‘always ready, always there’ and so that's what we will do,” Brigadier General Tommy Mancino said.
The Oklahoma National Guard’s second in command said a small group of specially trained forces were already on the ground in Tulsa and Oklahoma City Saturday. Mancino said Stitt officially activated 120 troops to Tulsa and 120 to Oklahoma City Sunday.
“Oklahoma guardsmen are not out there making arrests, we are simply providing additional forces to alleviate the strain on the police department,” Mancino said.
He said many of the disturbances the Guard has responded to are long after peaceful protests end.
“It's when generally some elements of those – I don't want to call them protesters because the protests are peaceful for the most part - but later on, typically at night, we've seen some activity that's just not consistent with the safety really of the participants themselves or the police and that's when the Guard has been asked to come in again,” Mancino said.
He said the troops are following the lead of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and working with local law enforcement.
Monday, President Donald Trump said he would send federal military forces to states that do not aggressively work to tamp down violent protests.
“I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said in a Rose Garden statement.
“I would not anticipate that at this time, not in Oklahoma. Again, in other states, in other large municipalities face different sets of issues than we do,” Mancino said. “I think we have more than enough force here in Oklahoma to provide support and assistance to those agencies.”
The Guard said there is not a timeline for how long the deployment will last.
“Oklahomans have a right to peaceful assembly, peaceful protest,” Mancino said. “As sworn defenders of the constitution, we uphold those values as well.”