As a historic uprising against police violence continues across the United States, President Trump Monday threatened to send heavily armed soldiers into the country’s streets.
President Donald Trump: “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.”
As Trump spoke from the Rose Garden, blasts could be heard from nearby Lafayette Park as the National Guard and police officers fired tear gas, rubber bullets and flashbangs to disperse a peaceful protest against police brutality. Many officers wore riot gear; some were on horseback. Moments later, Trump walked through the now-cleared park to have his photo taken with a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, which was boarded up. Trump was accompanied by Attorney General William Barr, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
The president’s actions were widely denounced. D.C. Episcopal Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde criticized Trump for using the church as a “backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus.” The chief of police in Arlington, Virginia, pulled his officers from D.C. after they were used to clear the park, saying their safety and the safety of others was endangered for a photo op. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon wrote on Twitter, “The fascist speech Donald Trump just delivered verged on a declaration of war against American citizens.”