Trump threatens military force against protesters nationwide

APTOPIX_America_Protests_Philadelphia_60376 Philadelphia police and Pennsylvania National Guard take a knee at the suggestion of Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Melvin Singleton, unseen, outside Philadelphia Police headquarters in Philadelphia, Monday, June 1, 2020 during a march calling for justice over the death of George Floyd, Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.
APTOPIX_America_Protests_Columbus_50258 Ebri Yahloe, 26, of Columbus, chants while sitting along High Street as protests continue following the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd Monday, June 1, 2020 in Columbus, Ohio. Floyd was killed while in police custody on Memorial Day. Derek Chauvin, one of four Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd's arrest, has himself been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. During the arrest, video footage showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes as Floyd repeatedly said "I can't breathe."
America_Protests_Washington_51010 Demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Monday, June 1, 2020, near the White House in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers.
APTOPIX_America_Protests_Washington_12112 Demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Monday, June 1, 2020, near the White House in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers.
America_Protests_Philadelphia_37654 Philadelphia police and Pennsylvania National Guard take a knee at the suggestion of Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Melvin Singleton, unseen, outside Philadelphia Police headquarters in Philadelphia, Monday, June 1, 2020 during a march calling for justice over the death of George Floyd, Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.
Minneapolis_Police_Death_45595 Demonstrators gather at the Minnesota governor's mansion Monday, June 1, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests continued following the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day.
America_Protests_Washington_10642 A demonstrator is taken into custody by police after a curfew took effect during a protest over the death of George Floyd, Monday, June 1, 2020, near the White House in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers.
America_Protests_Atlanta_77132 In a show of peace and solidarity, law enforcement officials with riot shields kneel in front of protesters Monday, June 1, 2020, during a fourth day of protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
APTOPIX_America_Protests_Philadelphia_17240 Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Melvin Singleton, center, kneels and asks other police to join him outside Philadelphia Police headquarters in Philadelphia, Monday, June 1, 2020 during a march calling for justice over the death of George Floyd, Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.
APTOPIX_America_Protests_Washington_23729 Police clear demonstrators from Lafayette Park as they protest the death of George Floyd, Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers.
America_Protests_Washington_05274 Demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Monday, June 1, 2020, near the White House in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers.
America_Protests_Atlanta_05401 In a show of peace and solidarity, law enforcement officials with riot shields kneel in front of protesters Monday, June 1, 2020, during a fourth day of protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Minneapolis_Police_Death_45595 Demonstrators gather at the Minnesota governor's mansion Monday, June 1, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. Protests continued following the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day.
APTOPIX_America_Protests_Washington_87975 Demonstrators vandalize a car as they protest the death of George Floyd, Sunday, May 31, 2020, near the White House in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers.
APTOPIX_America_Protests_Minneapolis_18161 Motorists are ordered to the ground from their vehicle by police during a protest on South Washington Street, Sunday, May 31, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests continued following the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day.
APTOPIX_America_Protests_Richmond_47347 A young boy holds a "Justice" sign as he peers outside the window of a car passing protesters marching through downtown for a third night of unrest Sunday May 31, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Gov. Ralph Northam issued a curfew for this evening.
APTOPIX_America_Protests_Minneapolis_04011 Arrested protesters are loaded onto a transport bus by police on South Washington Street, Sunday, May 31, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests continued following the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day.
APTOPIX_America_Protests_California_31924 A protester yells Sunday, May 31, 2020, in Santa Monica, Calif., during unrest and protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.
APTOPIX_America_Protests_Florida_87917 People show their support for a Black Lives Matter march as it passes Sunday, May 31, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. For a second day in a row protesters took to the streets of Tampa to protest the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after he was pinned at the neck by a Minneapolis police officer.
America_Protests_Washington_81053 Police form a line on H Street as demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Sunday, May 31, 2020, near the White House in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers
APTOPIX_America_Protests_Las_Vegas_38727 Police stand guard as protesters rally at the Trump Tower, Monday, June 1, 2020, in Las Vegas, over the death of George Floyd. Floyd, a black man, died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day.
America_Protests_New_York_83050 A protester runs as he is chased by police on Monday, June 1, 2020, in New York. Protests were held throughout the city over the death of George Floyd, a black man in police custody in Minneapolis who died after being restrained by police officers on Memorial Day.
America_Protests_Pennsylvania_88012 Volunteer community members clean up a looted store in Philadelphia, Monday, June 1, 2020 in the aftermath of protest and unrest in reaction to George Floyd's death while in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis.
America_Protests_Ohio_98380 Cleveland police patrol the streets, Monday, June 1, 2020, in downtown Cleveland. The City of Cleveland extended its curfew through Tuesday night after riots broke out on Saturday in reaction to George Floyd's death while in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis.
America_Protests_New_York_City_86318 Workers board up the windows of Equipment women's clothing store, Monday, June 1, 2020, in the SoHo neighbourhood of New York. Protesters broke the windows Sunday night in reaction to George Floyd's death while in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis.
America_Protests_Alabama_89895 Workers and a volunteer clean up damage outside a burned-out clothing store in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday, June 1, 2020, following a night of unrest. People shattered windows, set fires and damaged monuments in a downtown park after a protest against the death of George Floyd. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.
APTOPIX_America_Protests_Minneapolis_41469 A protester reacts after being hit by pepper spray from police as their group of demonstrators are detained prior to arrest at a gas station on South Washington Street, Sunday, May 31, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests continued sparked by the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.
Minneapolis_Police_Death-Floyd_97828 An emotional Terrence Floyd, second from right, is comforted as he sits at the spot at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, Minneapolis, Minn., where his brother George Floyd, encountered police and died while in their custody, Monday, June 1, 2020.
Minneapolis_Police_Death-Floyd_55022 An emotional Terrence Floyd, second from right, is comforted as he touch the spot at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, Minneapolis, Minn., where his brother George Floyd, encountered police and died while in their custody, Monday, June 1, 2020.
APTOPIX_America_Protests_New_York_City_34391 A Statue of Liberty painting is seen through a smashed Dolce and Gabbana store window, Monday, June 1, 2020, in the SoHo neighbourhood of New York. Protesters broke into the store Sunday night in reaction to George Floyd's death while in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis.
America_Protests_Philadelphia_87598 Protesters rally in front of Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers, Monday, June 1, 2020, in Philadelphia, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.
America_Protests_New_Hampshire_26921 Lt. Alex Reno, of the Hampton, N.H. police department, right, and Dep. Chief Kevin Gelineau, of the Seabrook, N.H. police department, center, take a knee as they join with protesters taking a knee during a rally, Monday June 1, 2020 on Hampton Beach. The group gathered to voice their concerns following the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day.
America_Protests_Seattle_76381 Hanz Jouissance holds up a fist at the conclusion of a prayer vigil at the First AME church Monday, June 1, 2020, in Seattle, following protests over the weekend over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis.
America_Protests_California_07814 Volunteers clean graffiti from a Jamba Juice Monday, June 1, 2020, in Santa Monica, Calif., a day after unrest and protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.
America_Protests_Los_Angeles_42434 A man cycles past a boarded-up store after mass demonstrations on Saturday night over the death of George Floyd in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles, Monday, June 1, 2020.
America_Protests_California_19200 Volunteers pick up glass from a damaged The Gap store Monday, June 1, 2020, in Santa Monica, Calif., a day after unrest and protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.
APTOPIX_America_Protests_Boston_14416 A woman wearing a mask due to coronavirus concerns, looks at a smashed storefront window in Boston's Downtown Crossing, Monday, June1, 2020. A march in Boston Sunday to protest the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25, turned violent after dark.
America_Protests_California_05362 Volunteers clean graffiti from a store wall Monday, June 1, 2020, in Santa Monica, Calif., a day after unrest and protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.
America_Protests_Florida_12923 Members of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity hold hands in prayer in the parking lot, Monday, June 1, 2020, in Tampa, Fla., near where two places of business were destroyed by protesters Saturday night. Several counties across Florida issued curfews to curb large crowds gathering to protest the killings of black people by police.
America_Protests_Indianapolis_72179 A women leads a chant as protesters took a knee at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis, Monday, June 1, 2020 over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day.
America_Protests_New_Hampshire_70857 People gather to protest in Hampton Beach, N.H., Monday, June 1, 2020, following the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day.
America_Protests_New_York_City_38167 Police officers stop to look at a burned out police car, Monday, June 1, 2020, in the SoHo neighbourhood of New York. Protesters burned the car in reaction to George Floyd's death while in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis.
America_Protests_California_06273 Volunteers clean up graffiti on a window at The Pike Outlets, Monday, June 1, 2020, in Long Beach, Calif, after overnight protests in reaction to George Floyd's death while in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis.
America_Protests_New_York_City_48248 Workers board up windows of a Nespresso store, Monday, June 1, 2020, in the SoHo neighbourhood of New York. Protesters broke into the store Sunday night in reaction to George Floyd's death while in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis.
America_Protests_Ohio_58595 Workers install plywood over broken windows at Jack Casino, Monday, June 1, 2020, in Cleveland. The City of Cleveland extended its curfew through Tuesday night after riots broke out on Saturday over the death of George Lloyd.
America_Protests_Missouri_58367 Fireworks thrown by protesters explode outside the Ferguson police department on Sunday, May 31, 2020, as police get set to advance onto S. Florissant Road to clear the crowd from which they were thrown. New video of alleged excessive force in Minneapolis sparked nationwide demonstrations.
APTOPIX_America_Protests_Washington_77578 Demonstrators pprotest the death of George Floyd, Sunday, May 31, 2020, near the White House in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Wielding extraordinary federal authority, President Donald Trump threatened the nation’s governors on Monday that he would deploy the military to states if they did not stamp out violent protests over police brutality that have roiled the nation over the past week. His announcement came as police under federal command forced back peaceful demonstrators with tear gas so he could walk to a nearby church and pose with a Bible.

Trump’s bellicose rhetoric came as the nation convulsed through another round of violence over the death of George Floyd at a time when the country is already buckling under the coronavirus outbreak and the Depression-level unemployment it has caused. The president demanded an end to the heated protests in remarks from the White House Rose Garden and vowed to use more force to achieve that aim.

If governors throughout the country do not deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers to “dominate the streets,” Trump said the U.S. military would step in to “quickly solve the problem for them.”

“We have the greatest country in the world,” the president declared. “We’re going to keep it safe.”

A military deployment by Trump to U.S. states would mark a stunning federal intervention rarely seen in modern American history. Yet the message Trump appeared to be sending with the brazen pushback of protesters outside the White House was that he sees few limits to what he is willing to do.

Some around the president likened the moment to 1968, when Richard Nixon ran as the law-and-order candidate in the aftermath of a summer of riots, capturing the White House. But despite his efforts to portray himself as a political outsider, Trump is an incumbent who risks being held responsible for the violence.

Minutes before Trump began speaking, police and National Guard soldiers began aggressively forcing back hundreds of peaceful protesters who had gathered in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, where they were chanting against police brutality and Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. As Trump spoke, tear gas canisters could be heard exploding.

Floyd died last week after he was pinned to the pavement by a police officer who put his knee on the handcuffed black man’s neck until he stopped breathing. His death set off protests that spread from Minneapolis across America. His brother Terrence pleaded with protesters on Monday to remain peaceful.

Five months before Election Day, the president made clear that he would stake his reelection efforts on convincing voters that his strong-arm approach was warranted to quell the most intense civil unrest since the 1960s. He made little effort to address the grievances of black Americans and others outraged by Floyd’s death and the scourge of police brutality, undermining what his campaign had hoped would be increased appeal to African American voters.

The scene in and around the White House on Monday night appeared to be carefully orchestrated. As the crowd of protesters grew, Attorney General William Barr arrived in Lafayette Park to look over at the demonstrations and the swarm of law enforcement.

The sudden shift in tactics against the protesters was initially a mystery. Then, after finishing his Rose Garden remarks, Trump emerged from the White House gates and walked through the park to St. John’s Church, where an office had been set on fire the previous night.

Trump, who rarely attends church, held up a Bible and gathered a group of advisers — all white — to pose for photos.

The moment was quickly decried by Trump’s critics, with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo saying the president “used the military to push out a peaceful protest so he could have a photo op at a church.”

“It’s all just a reality TV show for this president,” he said on Twitter. “Shameful.”

Federal law permits presidents to dispatch the military into states to suppress an insurrection or if a state is defying federal law, legal experts said. But Trump’s statements also set up an immediate conflict with officials in New York and other states who asserted that the president does not have the unilateral right to send in troops against the will of local governments.

The country has been beset by angry demonstrations for the past week in some of the most widespread racial unrest in the U.S. since the 1960s. Spurred largely by Floyd’s death, protesters have taken to the streets to decry the killings of black people by police. Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with murder, but protesters are demanding that three of his colleagues be prosecuted, too. All four were fired.

While most of the demonstrations have been peaceful, others have descended into violence, leaving neighborhoods in shambles, stores ransacked, windows broken and cars burned, despite curfews around the country and the deployment of thousands of National Guard members in at least 15 states.

On Monday, demonstrations erupted from Philadelphia, where hundreds of protesters spilled onto a highway in the heart of the city, to Atlanta, where police fired tear gas at demonstrators, to Nashville, where more than 60 National Guard soldiers put down their riot shields at the request of peaceful protesters who had gathered in front of Tennessee’s state Capitol to honor Floyd. Two people were killed during protests in the Chicago suburb of Cicero, authorities said, but provided no details. In Louisville, Kentucky, riot police firing tear gas scattered several hundred protesters from downtown, violently capping a day of mostly peaceful protests.

A vehicle plowed through a group of law enforcement officers at a demonstration in Buffalo, New York, injuring at least two. Video from the scene showed the vehicle accelerating through an intersection shortly after officers apparently tackled a protester and handcuffed him. The officers were hospitalized in stable condition, authorities said.

In New York City, where nightfall has brought widespread scenes of destruction, large crowds rallied peacefully in Times Square and Brooklyn during the day. Then, in early evening, looters rushed into a Nike store in Manhattan and protesters smashed storefront windows near Rockefeller Center. Video posted on social media showed some protesters arguing with people breaking windows, urging them to stop.

The city has already endured immense commercial damage from the unrest. On Monday, rioters got through the doors of the city’s flagship Macy’s store, famous for its Thanksgiving Day parade, and police later pulled at least two handcuffed men out of the store and put them into a van. By that time, most of the the street was littered with broken glass.

In Washington, protesters continued marching peacefully through Washington hours after being forced from Lafayette park and past the 7 p.m. curfew.

Eventually, within sight of the Capitol building, the marchers were turned back by law enforcement officers using tear gas, pellets and low-flying helicopters kicking up debris. As they dispersed, some protesters smashed windows at a nearby office building.

Earlier Monday, Trump told the nation’s governors in a video conference that they “look like fools” for not deploying even more National Guard troops. “Most of you are weak,” he said.

He added: “You’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, dismissed Trump’s comments as the “rantings of an insecure man trying to look strong after building his entire political career on racism.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, vowed to address institutional racism in his first 100 days in office. He met in person with black leaders in Delaware and also held a virtual meeting with big-city mayors.

Biden said hate emerges “when you have somebody in power who breathes oxygen into the hate.”

In Minneapolis, meanwhile, Floyd’s brother Terrence made an emotional plea for peace at the site where Floyd was arrested.

“Let’s switch it up, y’all. Let’s switch it up. Do this peacefully, please,” Terrence Floyd said as he urged people to use their power at the ballot box.

Also Monday, an autopsy commissioned for Floyd’s family found that he died of asphyxiation from neck and back compression, the family’s attorneys said.

Authorities in many cities have blamed the violence on outside agitators, though have provided little evidence to back that up.

But on Monday, federal authorities arrested a 28-year-old Illinois man saying he had posted self-recorded video on his Facebook page last week that showed him in Minneapolis handing out explosive devices and encouraging people to throw them at law enforcement officers.

More than 5,600 people nationwide have been arrested over the past week for such offenses as stealing, blocking highways and breaking curfew, according to a count by The Associated Press.

___

Sullivan and Morrison reported from Minneapolis. Associated Press journalists across the U.S. contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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