The Federal Bureau of Prisons has confirmed that prison guards are controlling crowds at protests across the US against institutionalised racism and police brutality.
Unbadged officers have been seen controlling crowds in Washington DC and Florida without badges or unit insignia visible, leaving commentators to ask where the armed patrols had been sourced.
In a statement to NBC on Thursday, the prisons bureau said that its guards had been sent “to protect federal property and personnel” during demonstrations in Washington DC, Miami and Florida.
The BOP added that the US Marshals Service, who act as the federal law enforcement agency for prisons within the Department of Justice, had been authorised to patrol the streets.
Crisis Management Teams, said the BOP on Thursday, had been deployed to Washington DC without typical uniform and wore no badges on the outside.
It said: “The BOP Crisis Management teams do carry badges and are not wearing BOP specific clothing as they are serving a broader mission”
CMTS were said to be “highly trained tactical units capable of responding to prison disturbances, and providing assistance to other law enforcement agencies during emergencies”.
One prison guard on patrol in Washington DC told MSNBC’s Garrett Haake on Wednesday that he was from the justice department.
Another was seen wearing a badge from the high-security federal prison for male inmates, Atwater, in California.
It is still not clear how many unbadged BOP guards have been sent to patrol demonstrations, and what percentage of these teams are from prisons or other unknown operations teams.
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