Governor Kevin Stitt announced today that out of an abundance of caution he is activating over 75 members of the Oklahoma National Guard (OKNG) to assist local law enforcement should any protests at the State Capitol, or other locations, turn violent.
“I support the right for Oklahomans to peacefully demonstrate, but we will not tolerate violence or damage to property,” said Gov. Stitt. “At the request of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the National Guard has been authorized to provide support as needed. These hardworking Oklahomans are our friends and neighbors who step up in times of need. Any violence and damage to property goes against the Oklahoma Standard and is a distraction designed to keep us from uniting together.”
Members of the guard will be activated from Saturday, Jan. 16 to Thursday, Jan. 21. No specific, credible threats have been identified in Oklahoma, but increased safety measures are being taken in a proactive response to intelligence shared by federal law enforcement regarding state capitol buildings across the country.
“The Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Oklahoma National Guard have trained together to be prepared for the type of events that may be happening over the next week,” said DPS Commissioner John Scully. “Cooperation with our partners is essential and we appreciate the collaboration within the law enforcement and military community. Our goal is to protect peaceful demonstrators while also protecting lives and preventing the destruction of property.”
The OKNG, like most states and territories, maintains a National Guard Reaction Force (NGRF) year-round. The main purpose of the NGRF is to come to the aid of Oklahomans following a natural disaster, such as a tornado or flood. The NGRF’s secondary mission is support to law enforcement.
The NGRF was most recently mobilized and deployed to Tulsa this past summer to assist local law enforcement when President Donald Trump held a campaign event near downtown. Due in great part to the well-coordinated efforts of the OHP, the OKNG and local law enforcement, demonstrations remained civil with no notable damage to property, loss of life or violent altercations.
“Oklahoma’s NGRF is comprised of men and women from our communities. Their job is to protect their fellow Oklahomans, support the right to peaceful demonstration and prevent loss of life and property,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson, the adjutant general for Oklahoma.