Trump Threatens To Deploy Military To Halt Anti-Racist Protests

Graeme Demianyk

Donald Trump has threatened to deploy the country’s military unless state authorities put an end to ongoing demonstrations across America.

Describing himself as the “president of law and order”, Trump vowed to mobilise armed forces if mayors and state governors refused to call out the National Guard. 

Trump announced the crackdown on nationwide anti-racism protests in a surreal speech from the White House Rose Garden on Monday while police flash grenades could be heard nearby. 

Speaking as police deployed tear gas on protesters just outside the White House, Trump vowed harsher action against protesters.

The president made no mention of violent actions taken by police in recent days against protesters, nor did he make any call for national unity.

Instead, he said: “I am mobilising all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting, to end the destruction and arson. And to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your Second Amendment rights.”

Trump added: “Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled.

“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.”

Protesters were peacefully gathered outside the White House even as Trump began speaking. Authorities, however, fired tear gas and flash grenades in an attempt to move them away from the area before the president’s address began.

 

 

“As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults and the wanton destruction of property,” Trump said.

The president’s remarks came amid nationwide protests following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week. Tens of thousands have taken to the streets of American cities demanding justice for Floyd and other Black victims of police brutality. In many of those cities, police have deployed violent tactics to attempt to quell demonstrations, including firing rubber bullets and tear gas, pepper-spraying crowds and hitting people with batons.

A second autopsy ordered by Floyd’s family and released on Monday found that his death was a homicide by “mechanical asphyxiation”, meaning some physical force interfered with his oxygen supply. The report says three officers contributed to Floyd’s death.

The public areas around the White House, particularly Lafayette Square, have been host to demonstrations for four days. On Sunday night, peaceful gatherings turned violent as police clashed with some protesters and several nearby buildings were vandalized or burned.

The public areas around the White House, particularly Lafayette Square, have been host to demonstrations for four days. On Sunday night, peaceful gatherings turned violent as police clashed with some protesters and several nearby buildings were vandalized or burned.

As his remarks ended, Trump said he was leaving to go pay his respects “to a very, very special place”. He later walked through Lafayette Park, which had minutes earlier been filled with demonstrators, on his way to St John’s Church, where he posed for a photo while holding up a Bible and then left. 

Donald Trump holds a Bible as he visits outside St John's Church across Lafayette Park from the White House. (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
(Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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rump has been at odds with several governors as protests over Floyd’s death have spread across the nation. In a call on Monday, he said state leaders were “weak”, urging them to arrest demonstrators and “put them in jail for 10 years”.

“You have to dominate. If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time,” the president said during the call. “They’re going to run over you. You’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.”

The language built on Trump’s vocal denouncements of demonstrators as “thugs”.

 

In a widely criticised message on Twitter, the president threatened violent intervention and said he would send in the National Guard should protests continue. 

“Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he said of the rising protests in Minneapolis at the time.

Twitter quickly appended a note to the tweet, saying it violated rules about glorifying violence.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.