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Thousands of National Guardsmen were “banished” to a cramped parking garage after being abruptly forced to leave parts of the US Capitol grounds Thursday, according to reports.
Officers were told they could no longer access areas of the US Capitol Complex — including a Senate office cafeteria previously used as a rest area — after tirelessly protecting the nation’s capital in the days leading up to the presidential inauguration, according to Politico.
“We honestly just feel betrayed,” one Guardsman told the outlet. “After everything went seamlessly, we were deemed useless and banished to a corner of a parking garage.”
One unit of 5,000 officers — enlisted after the deadly US Capitol breach earlier this month — was forced to take breaks in a nearby garage with no internet reception, a single electrical outlet and only two bathroom stalls, the report said.
Photos appear to show officers lying on the cement ground to rest and sleeping while leaning against concrete pillars inside the garage, angering some officers.
“We feel incredibly betrayed,” a Guardsman said. “Yesterday dozens of senators and congressmen walked down our lines taking photos, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service. Within 24 hours, they had no further use for us and banished us to the corner of a parking garage.”
Roughly 25,000 National Guard troops were called to Washington DC from all 50 states to protect the city during President Joe Biden’s inauguration due to heightened security concerns following the deadly US Capitol siege on Jan. 6, which claimed the lives of five people.
Many of those officers had been using a café in the Dirksen Senate Office Building as a spot to relax on breaks and connect to the internet, only to be ordered to vacate the Capitol and nearby congressional buildings on Thursday afternoon, officers told the outlet.
The National Guard Bureau said the troop had been temporarily relocated because Congress is in session.
“The National Guard continues to assist and support the U.S. Capitol Police. As Congress is in session and increased foot traffic and business is being conducted, Capitol Police asked the troops to move their rest area,” the National Guard Bureau said in a statement. “They were temporarily relocated to the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Center garage with heat and restroom facilities. We remain an agile and flexible force to provide for the safety and security of the Capitol and its surrounding areas.”
But the incident sparked outrage among some lawmakers who vowed to find them a way to stay inside the Capitol building.
“My office is available; the Guard is welcome to it. There is plenty of space in the US Capitol for the men and women keeping us safe,” Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) tweeted Thursday night.
A US National Guard spokesman later told a FOX News reporter that troops will likely be moved to the Capitol Visitors Center amid outrage over the garage situation.