ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Members of Maryland’s National Guard are in the District of Columbia only to patrol monuments and have not been involved in altercations with protesters in the nation’s capital, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday.

At a news conference, Hogan said Secretary of Defense Mark Esper called him to request that guard members come to the District of Columbia because he did not want to use active-duty military during protests in the capital. Esper said Wednesday that he opposes using military troops to contain the ongoing street protests.

“The secretary of defense called me directly and asked,” Hogan said. “He did not want to utilize the military, and I agree with that. I’m very much opposed to calling up the active-duty military.”

Hogan emphasized that Maryland National Guard members have not been involved in altercations with protesters.

“They are specifically not involved in any of the things with the protesters,” Hogan said. “They’re on a specific mission, spread out, standing at monuments.”

Hogan, a Republican, also said his administration reached out to Democratic District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, “and she approved of that mission.”

Michael Ricci, a spokesperson for Hogan, said earlier this week that 116 Maryland National Guard members were stationed on the National Mall to support U.S. Capitol Police.

Hogan began a news conference Wednesday on the state’s response to the coronavirus by addressing the death of George Floyd last week in Minnesota. Floyd was an African American man who died after a police officer pressed a knee into his neck for several minutes.

“I want to begin by taking a moment to address the senseless murder of George Floyd, which has served as yet another reminder that we still have a long way to go to live up to our nation’s highest ideals,” Hogan said.

Hogan noted the protests in cities around the country, including Baltimore.

“I’m incredibly proud that during this difficult time, the people of Baltimore city have set an example for the rest of America,” Hogan said, thanking local officials, police and the Maryland National Guard. “But most importantly, I want to thank the residents of Baltimore, who are showing the power of a strong, compassionate, and united community.”

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