Police Rush DC Crowd as Trump Threatens Use of Federal Force

Speech declares Trump 'the president of law and order'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2020 7:05 PM CDT
Trump Threatens to Dispatch Military to Stop Violence
President Trump holds a Bible for photographers outside St. John's Church across Lafayette Park from the White House on Monday.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Trump threatened to unleash military force on the nation that will "dominate the streets" in an address Monday, promising an "overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled." Moments before he began speaking in the Rose Garden, military police and vehicles moved against a crowd in Lafayette Park that appeared to be protesting peacefully, the AP reports. That provided TV viewers with a split-screen view of the president speaking while fighting raged and tear gas canisters exploded. After the area was cleared of protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets and flash grenades, Trump walked to nearby St. John's Church and posed for photographers holding a Bible. When a photographer asked if it was his Bible, Trump said, "It's a Bible." He then called up aides to pose with him. A few minutes later, they walked back to the White House, per the New York Times. The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, who watched the appearance on TV, later said, "I don't want President Trump speaking for St. John's."

In his speech, the president said he was "sickened and revolted" by the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis. He then said the violence and looting that have followed are "acts of domestic terror." Calling himself "the president of law and order," Trump said, "If a city or state refuses to take the actions 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." Trump said the 213-year-old Insurrection Act gives him that power. In general, presidents lack the authority to assign the military to perform domestic law enforcement, per the Washington Post. But the 1807 law allows federal troops to be used in emergencies; it was last invoked during the 1992 riots in Los Angeles after the beating of Rodney King. (Read more George Floyd stories.)

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