WASHINGTON — President Trump vowed to use the U.S. military to quash the deadly riots that have shaken the country in widespread protests against police violence.
Trump is already deploying thousands of soldiers to American cities around the country, he said, and will command them to stop riots in places where mayors and governors fail to stop the civil unrest by themselves, Trump said in a Rose Garden address at the White House on Monday evening.
“As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property,” Trump said. “We are ending the riots and lawlessness that are spreading throughout our country. We will end it now.”
Trump’s plan involves invoking a two century-old law known as the Insurrection Act, which allows the president to deploy troops inside the country. The move raises that striking image of a sitting president turning the awesome force of the American military against his own citizens, although the details of Trump’s plan weren’t immediately clear.
Trump’s brief, militaristic speech was punctuated by the sound of explosions and the smell of tear gas coming from the front lawn of the White House, where security personnel were pushing peaceful protestors away from the adjacent Lafayette Park with surprising forcefulness.
Mounted police pushed protestors down the street and there were reports of rubber bullets being fired.
But the reason shortly became clear. After Trump wrapped up his remarks, he strode unexpectedly across the front lawn of the White House, over to St. John’s Episcopal Church, which stands near the White House and was partially burned by rioters over the weekend and had since been boarded up.
Trump raised a bible, and stood for a photo op, surrounded by several of his top advisors, including Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Attorney General Bill Barr.
Cover: President Donald Trump holds a Bible as he visits outside St. John's Church across Lafayette Park from the White House Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Park of the church was set on fire during protests on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)