Trump threatens military action against riots

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Protests have raged in many US cities for days. And for days, US President Trump has been calling on governors in the states to crack down. Now he is going on the offensive himself.

US President Donald Trump wants to use military force to stop the unrest in the USA if necessary. Accompanied by protests and chaotic scenes outside the White House, Trump announced the mobilization of all available civil and military forces of his government on Monday evening (local time).

“We are ending the unrest and lawlessness that has spread across our country,” he said at a speech in the White House rose garden. “If a city or state refuses to take any measures necessary to protect the lives and property of its citizens, I will deploy the United States military and quickly resolve the issue for them.”

During Trump’s appearance in the rose garden, security forces used violence to tear demonstrators outside the White House, including tear gas, as several media reported. Military police were also used against demonstrators. Shops, restaurants and hotels in the area had barricaded their shop windows.

Demonstrations against police violence, racism and social injustice have been going on in many US cities for days. The protests were triggered by the death of African American George Floyd after a brutal police operation in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The demonstrations were partly violent. Trump had repeatedly called on democratic governors and mayors to crack down on rioters and accused them of weakness.

Trump calls the riots “terror”

Not only in Washington, but also in other metropolises such as New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Philadelphia, protests for Floyd’s death continued on Monday evening. Trump has repeatedly called on democratic governors and mayors to crack down on rioters and accused them of weakness. On Monday evening, the Republican again asked governors to deploy enough National Guard forces to bring the streets back under control. Trump threatened troublemakers with severe consequences. He warned “the organizers of terror” who face “long prison terms”.

The state democratic governor, J. B. Pritzker, told CNN that the president had no legal basis to deploy the U.S. military to states. His Democratic colleague Gretchen Whitmer, state governor of Michigan, said Trump could not use the military in states without the governors’ approval. Whitmer called Trump’s statements “dangerous and shocking”.

“I am your President for Law and Order”

Trump said to the Americans: “I am your president for law and order.” He would fight to protect the country and its citizens. Trump wants to be re-elected for a second term in November and is trying to portray himself as a hardliner in the current crisis. On Monday, he spoke of the unrest as “terror”, for which he blamed “professional anarchists, a violent mob, arsonists, pillagers, Antifa and others”. Trump had already announced on Sunday that Antifa would be banned. He left details open.

Trump also announced “decisive action” to protect the capital Washington on Monday. What happened there last night was “total shame”. He sends “thousands of heavily armed soldiers” to stop new riots in Washington.

Donald Trump posed with a Bible after his speech: The US President goes on the offensive in the riots in the USA. (Source: Tom Brenner / Reuters)

A Defense Department official familiar with the matter told Reuters, while preserving anonymity, that some 1,200 members of the National Guard had been mobilized for the capital and a further 600 to 800 were on standby in the evening. “The order to deploy active troops should be made by the president at this point,” said the insider. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Chief of Staff Mark Milley, Attorney General William Barr and others would coordinate the response in the Department of Justice, another ministry official said.

During Trump’s speech, a live broadcast on US television showed how police officers across the street in Lafayette Park fired tear gas at largely peaceful demonstrators and the mounted police wanted to disperse the crowd.

Protesters resist the curfew

In the US capital, a night curfew came into effect at 7:00 p.m. CEST, which protesters initially overruled. In the late evening, however, only a few demonstrators could be seen. Also in New York – the largest city in the USA – a night curfew was imposed after renewed, sometimes violent, protests.

Lawyers from the family of George Floyd submitted an autopsy report on Monday, which contradicts the preliminary findings of the authorities and which is a heavy burden on the police. Independent coroners have come to the conclusion that Floyd was suffocated in the brutal police operation in Minneapolis last Monday, lawyer Ben Crump said. Medical doctor Michael Baden, entrusted with the Floyd autopsy by the lawyers, said: “The autopsy showed that there was no pre-existing condition that resulted in or contributed to his death.”

George Floyd had been knocked down by the neck of a policeman in Minneapolis last week. He said “I cannot breathe” several times and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. The scene had been filmed by passers-by.

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