Unrest in Washington a 'total disgrace', mobilizing 'heavily armed' military to stop protests: Trump

WION Web Team Washington Jun 02, 2020, 07.20 AM(IST)

A demonstrator walks in front of a row of military police members wearing riot gear as they push back demonstrators outside of the White House, June 1, 2020 in Washington DC. Photograph:( AFP )

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"These are not acts of peaceful protests, these are acts of domestic terror," Trump said, speaking at the White House as tear gas was fired on protesters outside.

President Donald Trump threatened to deploy the military if states and cities failed to quell the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

Calling himself the "law and order" president, Trump said that he was deploying thousands of "heavily armed" soldiers and police to prevent further protests in Washington, where buildings and monuments have been vandalized near the White House.

Also read: Tensions rise in US as fires burn near White House amid riots

“My first and highest duty as president is to defend our great country and the American people,” Trump said. “I swore an oath to uphold the laws of our nation and that is exactly what I will do.”

Also read: Official autopsy reveals Floyd's 'homicide' caused by 'neck compression'

"What happened in the city last night was a total disgrace," he said during a nationwide address.

"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."

"I want the organizers of this terror to be on notice that you will face severe criminal penalties and lengthy sentences in jail," Trump said as police could be heard using tear gas and stun grenades to clear protestors just outside the White House.

Fireworks explode behind Ferguson Police during a protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of African-American man George Floyd, in Ferguson, Missouri, U.S. May 31, 2020. (Reuters Photo)

As Trump spoke, riot police and military police used tear gas to clear protesters out of a public square in front of the White House. Trump took a walk through the square after his remarks.

One week after Floyd died in Minneapolis, an autopsy blamed his videotaped death squarely on a white police officer who pinned him down by the neck with his knee for nearly nine minutes as Floyd pleaded, "I can't breathe!"

"The evidence is consistent with mechanical asphyxia as the cause of death, and homicide as the manner of death," Aleccia Wilson, a University of Michigan expert who examined his body at the family's request, told a news conference.

The unrest has been the most widespread in the United States since 1968 when cities went up in flames over the slaying of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. and rekindled memories of 1992 riots in Los Angeles after police were acquitted in the brutal beating of black motorist Rodney King.

(With inputs from AFP)