President Donald Trump has announced a federal response to the protests-turned-riots that have erupted across the U.S. in response to the death of George Floyd. Since Floyd's death at the hands of police on May 25, there have been numerous demonstrations in major U.S. cities, several of which turned into riots on Thursday and throughout the weekend.
"I am mobilizing all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting, to end the destruction and arson," Trump said at a nationwide address on Monday. "And to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your Second Amendment rights." He went on to say that he's ordered "an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled," and threatened to "deploy the United States military, and quickly solve the problem for them."
The president also claimed he was considering invoking the 1807 Insurrection Act, which permits a president to deploy the military within the borders of the U.S. to combat civil disorder. Several protesters were present prior to the speech, though it appeared as though gas had been used to disperse protesters. Trump's remarks come after he had a heated exchange with state governors on Monday, where he called their response to the protests "weak."
A U.S. official told ABC News that active-duty Army military police units from Fort Bragg, North Carolina were ready to be on standby in the Washington, D.C. area as soon as Monday night. This follows three days of violent protests, including several near the White House over the weekend. The official went on to say that the troops would be protecting national monuments, the White House, property, and infrastructure — and that not all of them will be armed.
Trump's initial criticism toward governors on Monday was met with mixed responses, including one from Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, who told reporters he wasn't impressed with calls "about dominating and fighting" from the president. "I know I should be surprised when I hear incendiary words like this from him, but I'm not," Baker said, via CNN. "At so many times during these past several weeks when the country needed compassionate and leadership the most, it was simply nowhere to be found." After remarking that they "got bitterness, combativeness and self-interest" from the president, Baker added, "that's not what we need in Boston, it's not what we need right now in Massachusetts and it's definitely not what we need across this great country of ours either."