Donald Trump announced Monday that he will deploy the armed forces to contain the riots and violence that occurred in the last days after the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. Trump said from the White House that he is mobilizing all available federal resources, civil and military, to stop the riots and looting, to stop the destruction and arson. And to protect the rights of Americans who respect the law.
Along these lines, he warned that he recommended the governors “deploy the National Guard to take to the streets” to ” stop the riots, looting, vandalism, assaults and the senseless destruction of property .” In case they refuse, he said: “If a city or state refuses to take the necessary measures … then I will deploy the United States Army .””
He also denounced that the country “is being attacked by professional anarchists,” and maintained: “These are not peaceful protests, this is national terrorism.”
The president indicated that from 7:00 p.m. local time, there will be a curfew, and warned: “Anyone who violates the law will be detained and face criminal charges.”
While the head of state gave his speech, in the vicinity of the White House there was a new confrontation between the protesters and the police and the National Guard. The security forces dispersed the protesters with tear gas.
Trump assured that his administration is “committed” to justice for Floyd’s death: “I promise to bring justice to George Floyd’s family, but we cannot allow peaceful protesters to be displaced by mobs (…) As President, I will fight to keep them safe and protect Americans. ”
After his speech, and amid the riots a few blocks away, Trump walked, heavily escorted by his security team, to the Episcopal Church of Saint John, in front of the White House, which was damaged by protesters. As the president walked, his security asked the press and the people in Lafayette Square, the square in front of the presidential house, to withdraw from the path. Upon arriving at the church, the President of the United States took some photos while holding a Bible, and stated: “We are going to come out of this situation very strong.”
“What happened in the city last night is an absolute disgrace,” Trump said in a speech, referring to the acts of violence that occurred in Washington.
Despite having been dispersed from the area where the president walked, the protesters still continued in the vicinity shouting slogans, although without being able to access the Lafayette Square area.
For the past three days, the vicinity of the White House has been the scene of altercations between protesters and law enforcement, in this heat of protests that have erupted across the country over the murder of Floyd. On Friday night, agents of the Secret Service took Trump to a bunker in the White House when hundreds of protesters surrounded the presidential palace and threw stones. The American president spent almost an hour there, according to a Republican close to the White House who was not authorized to comment publicly on private matters. His version was confirmed by a government official who also spoke on condition of anonymity.
Hours before his pronouncement, Trump criticized state governors for what he considered an insufficient response to the riots. In a conference call, the audio of which was quickly leaked and broadcast by various local media, Trump told regional leaders that the protesters were “terrorists” and should “dominate them. ” If they did not take a “tough” approach that involves “sending them to prison for long periods of time,” they would see themselves as “idiots” in the eyes of the public, he said.
Specifically, he focused on Minnesota, the city where Floyd died at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin after he knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes, ensuring that the city had become a ” laughing stock throughout the world “.
“This is a movement. If they don’t end it, it will get worse and worse. The only time it succeeds is when you are weak, and most of you are weak, ” Trump told the governors. “They have to arrest people, they have to judge people, they have to put them in jail for ten years and they will never see this kind of thing again, ” he added.
US Attorney General William Barr, who also participated in the call, said the Trump administration wants to file “federal charges against anyone who violates federal law in connection with these riots,” but for that, he needs governors to disperse the crowds and “control the streets”. Pentagon chief Mark Esper, for his part, inserted warlike language into the conversation, stating: ” The sooner they master the battlespace, the sooner this will dissipate.”
In the framework of the riots, more than 4,400 people have been arrested since the protests began last week.
Many regional leaders have established curfews in their states with the aim of reducing the possibility of scenes of violence taking place, most of them at night. The last to do so was the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, who decreed that this will take place between 11 PM local time and 5 AM.
The nationwide protests began after the death of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis a week ago, after a white police officer – Derek Chauvin – restrained him, already handcuffed, with his knee to his neck for several minutes, despite his pleas for I couldn’t breathe. Although the protests often begin in a peaceful environment, many of them have subsequently led to riots, looting, and incidents with the security forces.