(TMU) – A viral video of National Guard troops enjoying water gun fights with protesters in Washington DC is making waves on social media.
The video, which is making the rounds on Instagram and Twitter after originally being posted to TikTok, is further evidence that National Guard troops dispatched to quell unrest were in no particular mood to use the sort of hard-nosed and violent tactics against civilians being used by police across the country.
In the video, a man can be seen going up to various people in the nation’s capital, including several National Guard members, and throwing a plastic squirt gun at their feet. The guard members and others can then be seen picking up the gun before running around and even somersaulting as they engage in a good-natured and fun water fight.
The National Guard members can also be seen shaking hands, giving fist bumps, and hugging the protesters.
In the video posted by moodgossip, the caption reads, “The bad police: STOP ALL PROTESTERS; The National Guard: (various fun emojis).”
Comedian George Lopez, who has outspokenly backed the nationwide protests, shared the video on his official Instagram page. Lopez wrote:
“Controlling the narrative is a powerful thing. You can have the exact same scenario interpreted 100 different ways depending on who’s telling the story. With all of the turmoil, racial/social injustice, and most importantly – need for CHANGE, It gives you HOPE for better days to see these smiling faces.”
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Controlling the narrative is a powerful thing. You can have the exact same scenario interpreted 100 different ways depending on who’s telling the story. With all of the turmoil, racial/social injustice, and most importantly- need for CHANGE, It gives you HOPE for better days to see these smiling faces. STAY SAFE, STAY THE COURSE, STAY #CHINGON ✊🏽✊🏿✊🏼✊🏽✊ #GeorgeLopez #SilverLinings #SmilesAndCries #pma #ChangeTheNarrative #blacklivesmatter #brownlivesmatter #change #solidarity #solidaridad
The video’s release also came after a uniformed Black member of the National Guard was captured on video chanting “I’m Black and I’m proud” along with protesters. The video quickly went viral and has since been viewed 15.4 million times.
The National Guardsman, later identified as Specialist Khaled Abdelghany, also posed for photos with protesters wearing “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts.
Spc. Abdelghany responded to the video on Twitter, writing: “I will always say it. I am a Black man first before anything! #BlackLivesMatter”
— Heedy (@heedygreedy) June 4, 2020
Troops of the National Guard were deployed to DC after multiple days of social upheaval and protests for racial justice and an end to police brutality following the May 25 killing of unarmed 46-year-old Black man George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
The National Guard troops included personnel from states like South Carolina and Utah. The controversial decision to send troops to the city, which has a large Black population, drew an angry response from Mayor Muriel Bowser – as did the widespread use of less-lethal weapons including tear gas and the deployment of unmarked Bureau of Prisons officers by the Department of Justice.
However, there have been signs that the deployment of the military to American city streets may have been just as distasteful for individual troops as it is for civilian critics.
Intelligencer reports that groups that assist and advise conscientious objectors and dissidents in the military such as Veterans for Peace, GI Rights Hotline, and About Face: Veterans Against the War have received a noticeable uptick in calls since governors began to mobilize National Guard units in their respective states.
Veteran organizations like @VetsAboutFace and @CouragetoResist are receiving record numbers of calls from active duty military about refusing illegal orders. @SkepticalVet Danny Sjursen talks about this dissent and growing up in Cop Land.https://t.co/7VmNaIkroi @VFPNational
— Popular Resistance (@PopResistance) June 9, 2020
“There are a lot of concerns, and there’s a lot of personal conflict and moral crisis that service members are experiencing right now,” Army veteran and Veterans for Peace executive director Garett Reppenhagen told Intelligencer. “In the last 15 years, we’ve seen our foreign conflicts escalating all over the world. But I don’t think that folks thought that the global war on terror would be fought here in our country against Americans.”
“Some of them are just exploring their options and seeing what’s available to them, and what the legality is of various decisions they could make,” Reppenhagen added. “Some have already made a decision not to deploy and not to report for duty. And they’re trying to figure out what the repercussions are going to be for them, and how to mitigate it,”
Another member of the National Guard anonymously informed the newspaper that he can’t tolerate the possibility that he might have to turn his gun on American civilians. Using encrypted text, the guardsman wrote:
“Essentially, the events of the last week (escalating police violence against protesters, the militarization of the police response, political factors fueling political conflict) sort of catalyzed in me a realization in my heart that I cannot continue to engage in violence or be complicit in it.”
On Sunday, members of the National Guard were ordered by the White House to begin withdrawing from the capital. On Tuesday, some of the last National Guard troops withdrew from DC.