Gov. Charlie Baker activated up to 1,000 members of the Massachusetts National Guard on Thursday in case guardsmen are needed to facilitate demonstrations or keep the peace at large-scale events, his administration said.
The governor's order comes a day after police officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, a Black Kentucky woman who was killed by Louisville police in her own home, were largely cleared by a grand jury. The announcement that one officer would be indicted on one charge related to shooting into other apartments led to protests that turned violent in Louisville and smaller and peaceful demonstrations in communities around Massachusetts.
A spokesperson for the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security said the governor signed the activation order "in the event that municipal leaders require assistance to protect opportunities to exercise first amendment rights and to maintain public safety during large scale events. National Guard personnel are deployed only at the request of, and in coordination with, the communities seeking support." The order did not name any communities that requested National Guard personnel.
The governor's order says the Guard was being called upon "to provide necessary assistance to State and local civilian authorities and/or special duty and emergency assistance for the preservation of life and property, preservation of order, and to afford protection to persons."
The order is to remain in effect until further notice from Adjutant General Gary Keefe.
In late August, Baker activated up to 1,000 guardsmen for the same official purpose. Though none of the guardsmen were pressed into duty during that activation, the call-up coincided with a weekend that saw violence crop up at and around demonstrations over policing and racial justice in other parts of the country.