With police deploying tear gas and flash bangs sounding in the background, President Donald Trump announced he is mobilizing the National Guard, and if necessary, the military, to stop rioting and looting and protect the lives of peace-loving citizens.
“We cannot allow the righteous cries and peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob,” Trump said in a brief speech Monday from the White House Rose Garden. “The biggest victims of the rioting are peace-loving citizens in our poorest communities and as their president, I will fight to keep them safe.
“I will fight to protect you. I am your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters.
“But in recent days, our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa, and others.”
Trump began with a vow for justice for George Floyd, the unarmed black man who was killed by now-fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Cauvin. The officer, facing third-degree murder charges, kept his knee pressed on Floyd’s neck for minutes while Floyd was begging to breathe.
“All Americans are rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd,” Trump said. “My administration is fully committed that, for George and his family, justice will be served. He will not have died in vain.”
The circumstances of Floyd’s death have triggered mass protests across the country and even in other nations. Many have been accompanied by spasms of violence as protesters, counterprotesters, and police have butted heads.
There have been several thousand arrests since the Memorial Day death, as well as acts of vandalism to buildings and cars, and repeated cases of looting that have been decried by many community leaders, law enforcement officials, and the Floyd family itself.
Trump added he is bringing in the military to defend Washington, D.C., where he has criticized Mayor Muriel Bowser for not doing enough to keep the peace amid the daily protests.
“America needs creation, not destruction; cooperation, not contempt; security, not anarchy; healing, not hatred; justice, not chaos – this is our mission, and we will succeed 100%,” Trump said. “We will succeed. Our country always wins.
“That is why I am taking immediate presidential action to stop the violence and restore security and safety in America. I am mobilizing 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.
“Therefore, the following measures are going into effect immediately. First, we are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country. We will end it now.
“Today I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the national guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets. 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.
“I am also taking swift and decisive action to protect our great Capitol, Washington, D.C. What happened in this city last night was a total disgrace. 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.”
The Insurrection Act, passed in 1807, allows the president to activate federal troops to restore peace within U.S. borders. Typically, federal troops are not allowed to perform police duties inside the United States.
It was last invoked by President George H.W. Bush in 1992 during the Los Angeles Rodney King riots at the request of California Gov. Pete Wilson.
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has said the National Guard was a useful resource because the troops were local residents and not an “occupying force.”
But Trump said, “I must tell you, it got so bad a few nights ago, the people wouldn’t have minded an occupying force, I wish we had an occupying force in there.”
Newsmax writer Greg Richter contributed to this report.