US President Donald Trump has threatened to send the military to end escalating protests in the United States in response to the killing of a black man while in police detention.
He said that if cities and states fail to control the demonstrations and “protect the population,” he will send the army “to quickly solve the problem for them.” Protests against the death of George Floyd have escalated over the past week.
A Los Angeles police captain said that a policeman was killed in a shootout after trying to disperse the crowds.
Dozens of people were injured because the authorities used tear gas and strength to break up demonstrations that swept 75 cities.
Four police officers were shot Monday night while demonstrating in St. Louis, Missouri.
Dozens of major cities imposed curfews at night:
Monday night, the doors of Macy’s famous store in New York City were smashed and its contents looted.
– The curfew will resume in the eighth city on Tuesday evening GMT.
– In Chicago, two people were killed during the protests in mysterious circumstances
– The chief of police in the city of Louisville, Kentucky, was fired after two policemen shot into the crowd Sunday night, killing a nearby shopkeeper.
– Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an investigation into allegations of a police assault on Australian journalists covering the protests in Washington.
– Music and celebrity channels pledged to stop the music for eight minutes, an indication of the time the police officer knelt and put his knee on George Floyd’s neck.
– The demonstrations began after a video showing George Floyd, 46, who had been arrested by a white policeman in Minneapolis on May 25, put him on his knee on the neck of Floyd pleading with him, saying he could not breathe.
The officer, Derek Chauven, has been charged with a third degree murder and will appear in court next week. Three policemen were also expelled.
Floyd’s case sparked an outrage over racism and the killing of black Americans. This case came after a famous incident in which Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Eric Garner in New York, and other incidents that sparked the “Black Lives Matter”.
For many, the anger also reflected years of frustration at the absence of socio-economic justice and because of discrimination, not just in Minneapolis.
- George Floyd’s death “a murder”
- 11 deaths sparked protests against the “brutality” of the US police
What did Trump say?
The president made a brief speech from the White House, and she could hear voices coming from a nearby demonstration that was being violently dispersed.
“All Americans rose up against the brutal killing of George Floyd, and they were right,” he said, but added that the memory of George Floyd should not “be extinguished by the angry crowd.”
He described the scenes of theft and violence in the capital on Sunday as a “great shame” and then pledged to support the city’s defense force.
He added: “Deploy thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, the military, and law enforcement officers to stop the riots, theft, vandalism, assaults and brutal destruction of property.”
He called on cities and states to deploy the National Guard, the army’s reserve force that can be called in to intervene in local emergencies, “in sufficient numbers to take control of the streets.” 16,000 soldiers have been deployed so far.
“If a city or state refuses to take the necessary measures … then I will send the United States Army and it will solve the problem for them quickly,” Trump said.
Can he do that?
In order to take that step, the president must activate the Insurrection Act, which in some cases first requires a request from state governors for the president to do so.
The last time this law was used was from 1992 during the Los Angeles riots after four policemen accused of abusing a black man, Rondie King, were acquitted.
Quickly, prominent members of the Democratic Party criticized Trump’s warning. Joe Biden, the Democrat’s presidential candidate, said that Trump “intends to use the US military against the Americans.”
After his speech, Trump walked toward a nearby church that the protesters had damaged some Sunday night. A number of his aides stood on the stairs, while he stood holding the Bible in front of journalists’ lenses.
The Archdiocese of Washington, Marianne Buda, condemned what President Trump did, and said: “He took a sacred symbol for our traditions and stood in front of a place of worship and he fully expected that this would be a festive moment. I can do nothing but condemn what he did.”
Escalating using force?
Analysis – Anthony Zoucher is the BBC’s North America correspondent
Throughout Monday, pressure increased on Donald Trump to take action to counter growing protests in major cities across the United States. As soon as the sun set in Washington, the president identified the nature of this act in his urgent speech from the White House lawn.
State governors have been warned that the president will use a very old, centuries-old law to send the US military to American soil, if they fail to protect property and ensure street safety. The president had already ordered the army to be sent to the capital (formerly called District of Columbia).
Moments before the president, who was preparing to stand by peaceful protesters, armed soldiers were removing peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square, opposite the White House.
The goal was to prepare the venue for the president to walk with high-ranking officials across the park toward St. John’s Church, which was slightly demolished after rioters set fire to it the night before – and that move might be seen as either a symbolic gesture or a seizure of an opportunity to take unnecessary pictures – this is according to the person’s vision. While standing in front of the church, carrying the Bible, the president promised that America would “come back strong” and that “it will not take long.”
There was no talk of a reform of the police force, nor of the root causes of the demonstration that began last week. Instead, Trump said he is “the president of law and order” – apparently in an indication that his solution to the ongoing crisis would be an escalation in the use of force.