President Donald Trump vowed Monday to order a military crackdown on U.S. raging demonstrations, saying he was sending thousands of troops into the capital ‘s streets and threatening to deploy soldiers to states that could not recover power.
The dramatic escalation came a week after George Floyd ‘s death in Minneapolis, an unarmed black man pinned down by a police officer with a knee to his neck — leading to civil unrest in New York , Los Angeles and dozens of other American towns.
Trump adopted a military tone in a national White House address after being blamed for his silence over the escalating situation, as police fired tear gas on demonstrators outside.
“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,” he said.
He slammed the protests in Washington the previous night as “total disgrace” and called on the governors to move quickly and firmly to “dominate the streets.”
“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, denouncing “acts of domestic terror”.
Protesters outside the White House were cleared after his speech so that the president could walk across the street to the two-century-old St Johns church, riddled with vandalism and partially destroyed by fire during Sunday’s unrest.
“We have a great country,”declared Trump standing in front of the boarded windows of the church, holding up a Bible and posing for photographs.
The backlash had been swift.
“What the president did today was he called out the American military against American citizens,” New York governor Andrew Cuomo said on Twitter.
“He used the military to push out a peaceful protest so he could have a photo op at a church. It’s all just a reality TV show for this president.”
Since Floyd ‘s death, thousands of people have taken part in protests against police brutality and racism around the world. This was the most intense violence in the U.S. since 1968 when cities erupted in flames over the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. symbol of civil rights.
Many of the protests were peaceful and marked by cathartic moments including officers embracing tearful demonstrators and marching alongside them or kneeling down.