President Donald Trump announced a crackdown on nationwide anti-racism protests in a surreal speech Monday from the White House Rose Garden while police flash-bang explosions could be heard nearby.
Speaking as police deployed tear gas on protesters just outside the White House, Trump vowed harsher action against protesters. The president made no mention of violent actions taken by police in recent days against protesters, nor did he make any call for national unity. Instead, he said he would mobilize “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.”
He specifically called on governors across the country to deploy the National Guard and vowed to deploy the US military if states refused to comply.
“Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled,” Trump said.
Activating the military would require Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, an 1807 law that allows the president to deploy active-duty military on U.S. soil. The statute was last used during the 1992 uprising in Los Angeles over the acquittals of police officers involved in the brutal beating of Rodney King, a Black motorist.
Protesters were peacefully gathered outside the White House even as Trump began speaking. Authorities, however, fired tear gas and flash-bang grenades in an attempt to move them away from the area before the president’s address began.
We can hear the explosions from the streets as Trump is speaking in the Rose Garden. pic.twitter.com/yRporcjN0T— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) June 1, 2020
Here's the moment where police fired teargas into a crowd of peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park, just minutes before Trump's address in the Rose Garden. pic.twitter.com/KPjxMKdDyx— Cameron Peters (@jcameronpeters) June 1, 2020
The public areas around the White House,...