OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt activated the National Guard and Oklahoma Highway Patrol on Monday following two days of protests in the state's two largest cities.
Stitt said in a statement he authorized the activation at the request of local communities and said the soldiers would be authorized to provide support "as needed." Stitt's action also comes after President Trump on Monday derided many governors as "weak" and demanded tougher crackdowns on a video teleconference with governors that also included law enforcement and national security officials.
"These hardworking Oklahomans are our friends and neighbors who step up in times of need, including to protect peaceful demonstrators," Stitt said of the National Guard members.
Stitt spokesman Charlie Hannema said the governor was on Monday's phone call with Trump but that his decision to activate the guard was unrelated.
Close to 250 soldiers have been activated in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, but won't be deployed unless the Oklahoma Highway Patrol requests additional manpower, said Lt. Col. Geoff Legler, a spokesman for the Oklahoma National Guard.
Oklahoma had large protests in Oklahoma City and Tulsa on Saturday and Sunday that were mostly peaceful, but that became unruly as darkness fell and some protesters clashed with police. Some in the crowds committed vandalism and threw items at police, prompting Oklahoma City police to respond with tear gas and rubber bullets.