‘Open your eyes America’: CNN anchor claims US is teetering on dictatorship with Trump as president

Louise Hall
CNN/ YouTube

CNN anchor Don Lemon hit out at Donald Trump on Monday night following the president’s address about the George Floyd protests, warning Americans that the country is “teetering on a dictatorship”.

On Monday Mr Trump threatened to deploy the US military to diffuse protests across the country in remarks made at a press conference at the White House.

In the wake of the threats Mr Lemon, speaking on CNN, condemned the president’s declaration of intent to use military force.

“Open your eyes, America. Open your eyes. We are teetering on a dictatorship. This is chaos. Has the president — I’m listening, is the president declaring war on Americans?”, the anchor asked.

“What is happening here? He is saying that he wants to protect peaceful protesters at the same time sending law enforcement and military into the streets to push peaceful protesters back, to be aggressive with peaceful protesters. He is doing the exact opposite of what he said in that speech," Mr Lemon said.

The broadcaster insisted that he was not condoning violence and that he hoped the protests would remain peaceful but also that citizens “fight for their right to peacefully protest.”

The criticism comes in light of Mr Trump’s statement during the briefing that he would protect peaceful protesters, while not far from the White House police officers deployed tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bangs to disperse peaceful protesters in Washington DC's Lafayette Square.

“I think the president is playing a very very dangerous game here," Mr Lemon added.

Another CNN anchor, Anderson Cooper, also criticsed Mr Trump's intent to use force, stating that the country is witnessing a "failure of presidential leadership."

"What happened in this past hour would be comical if it wasn't so dangerous and so destructive", the anchor said.

Mr Anderson claimed that Mr Trump “seems to think that dominating black people, dominating peaceful protesters is law and order. It’s not. He calls them thugs. Who is the thug here?"

“I’ve seen people dying in the streets while protesting. I’ve seen countries ripped apart by hate and mystery misinformation and laws and political demagogues and racism,” Mr Cooper added.

“We can’t let that happen here. Of course violence is no answer, but people protesting deserve answers, and they haven’t gotten them. no matter how many black men have been murdered, lynched, in prison, mistreated, redlined, blackballed from jobs. We all know it. People protesting in the streets they know it, and they’re tired of it. And we should be too.”

In the press briefing on Monday the president also said that he felt state governors were not taking severe enough action to “safeguard their residents”.

“If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” he said.

The press conference follows days of national unrest in the wake of the death of Mr Floyd, an unarmed black man, who died after in police custody after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground by his neck for a prolonged period of time.

Outrage over Mr Floyd’s death has spiralled in the last week with violent protests and demonstrations breaking out across the US. Washington has seen thousands of people flock to the White House and nearby Lafayette Square to protest.

Mr Trump has blamed the rioting and looting of businesses in Washington, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta and other cities on “professional anarchists, violent mobs” and groups like “Antifa“.

“These are not acts of peaceful protests, these are acts of domestic terror,” the president said, calling the violence an “offence to humanity and a crime against God”.

Mr Lemon said that the president’s move to mobilise the US military against protesters would “backfire”.

“People are upset and they’re angry. These people ... feel like they’re occupied in their own communities by police departments, many of them militarised police departments. Now the entire country, according to his orders, we are living under a militarised country or we will be soon and it will play out in front of our very eyes on national television,” he said.

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