“I am your President of law and order, and an ally of all peaceful protesters.”
US President Donald Trump has threatened to deploy the military in cities across the United States in an effort to stop scenes of disorder that have been prevalent since the death of George Floyd last week.
In a speech delivered in the Rose Garden of the White House on Monday evening, Trump, describing himself as a “president of law and order” and “an ally of all peaceful protesters” said he would be mobilising “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”.
Trump’s speech, which took place shortly before a 7pm curfew that has been imposed on Washington DC, was delivered after peaceful protestors outside the White House were dispersed using tear gas, flash bangs and rubber bullets.
This was the scene outside of the White House on Monday as police used tear gas and flash grenades to clear out peaceful protesters so President Trump could visit the nearby St. John’s Church, where there was a parish house basement fire Sunday night https://t.co/nFrCqYpqZR pic.twitter.com/DVP11iiVIh
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 2, 2020
As anti-racism protests continued in cities across the United States and beyond, including Dublin, Trump said his “first and highest duty as President is to defend our great country and the American people”.
He said that the American people “were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd” and added that while “justice will be served” for Floyd and his family, “we cannot allow the righteous cries and peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob”.
“The biggest victims of the rioting are peace-loving citizens in our poorest communities, and as their President, I will fight to keep them safe,” Trump said.
“I will fight to protect you. I am your President of law and order, and an ally of all peaceful protesters.”
The president described some of the incidents that have occurred in the United States as “domestic terror”, and said that, in “taking immediate presidential action to stop the violence and restore security and safety in America”, the following measures would be implemented.
“First, we are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country,” Trump said.
“We will end it now. Today, I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets. Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled.
“If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are 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.”
After protestors outside the White House were cleared using tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bangs, Trump walked a short distance from the White House to St. John's Episcopal Church, a place of worship for US presidents for more than 100 years, parts of which were burned during a protest on Sunday.
We have the greatest country in the world—and we will keep America safe. pic.twitter.com/lqHaUZ4wxW
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 1, 2020
Trump was pictured holding up a Bible that read “God is love” while striking a pose in front of the church’s sign, a move criticised by the Right Rev Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, who told The Washington Post: “I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing (the area in front of the church) with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop.”
“I don’t want President Trump speaking for St John’s,” she added.
“We so dissociate ourselves from the messages of this president.”