No, US soldiers did not turn their backs on Biden's motorcade in protest

Members of the National Guard at Joe Biden's inauguration on January 20, 2021.
Members of the National Guard at Joe Biden's inauguration on January 20, 2021. © Observers

Joe Biden's inauguration went off without a hitch, despite security fears after supporters of former president Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on January 6. But on social media, a video viewed more than 20,000 times claims that soldiers turned their backs on Biden's motorcade in protest. The FRANCE 24 Observers team reveals this is incorrect – their position was in fact a common security measure.


In the video, soldiers are lined up along a road: a first row faces the motorcade (from which the video is taken), another one, further away, has its back turned to it. A Twitter post sharing this video has gone viral, stating: “American soldiers turn their backs on #Biden heading towards the Capitol. Apparently they don't share the media's enthusiasm..."

We ran a reverse image search on Google (see here how to do this yourself) and found the original video, published on January 20th. It was posted by Ines de la Cuetara, a journalist from ABC News.

EM Twitter

Since she was following Joe Biden's motorcade to the US Capitol, the journalist filmed members of the National Guard, a US Army reserve unit seen in the video.

The National Guard said to The Observers that the guardsmen’s actions were part of the routine operation for this kind of event: "These National Guardsmen were on duty with a mission to protect the president against potential threats. Some are facing outwards to ensure the safety of all."

There is a monument behind the rows of guardsmen. Given that the video was shot in Washington, D.C., the monument had to be on the motorcade's route to the US Capitol. The Observers looked up the monuments of the capital and found that only one resembles the statue in the video: the Robert A. Taft Memorial, located less than 300 metres north of the Capitol.

Other images of the motorcade, such as this C-SPAN video (at 7:20:58), also show soldiers alternately facing towards and away from the motorcade.

These measures are not specific to the tense situation in which Biden's inauguration took place. The same military placement pattern was used during Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017. It can be seen here at 2:06:49, in this video from The Guardian.