Protestors advocating for justice after a white cop kneeled on the neck of an unarmed Black man for more than eight minutes have been met with unreasonable force. Many of them are taking to the streets in memory of George Floyd, the man who died in police custody last Monday, have been ironically and ruthlessly targeted by law enforcement with tear gas and rubber bullets. In part responding to violence distracting from the protest movement, more than 17,000 National Guard members have been deployed in 23 states, according to CNN. That’s about the same number of active-duty troops deployed in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, the news network reported.
Still, proclaiming himself the “president of law and order,” President Donald Trump has urged local officials to use more force in responding to protests and even bragged about a willingness to meet protestors breaching the White House fence with “the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons.”
He continued his call for force Monday in the Rose Garden when he recommended governors activate the National Guard to "dominate the streets." He said: "If a city or 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.”
Trump has repeatedly taken aim at Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, and the White House even suggested taking over the D.C. police department to respond to protests, John Falcicchio, Bowser’s chief of staff, told The Washington Post Tuesday. Trump earlier took matters into his own hands Monday when he had federal law enforcement officers unleash tear gas and rubber bullets on peaceful protesters for his church-front photo op.
"I imposed a curfew at 7pm,” Bowser tweeted Monday. “A full 25 minutes before the curfew & w/o provocation, federal police used munitions on peaceful protestors in front of the White House, an act that will make the job of @DCPoliceDept officers more difficult. Shameful! DC residents — Go home. Be safe"
Trump, in turn, responded Tuesday morning with praising officers’ “overwhelming force. Domination.”
It’s important to note that however misguided the president’s intent may have been in calling for brutal force, not all National Guard members have been similarly reckless.
At a peaceful vigil, the Tennessee National Guard laid down their shields at the invitation of community activist Justin Jones Monday, NBC affiliate WSMV-TV reported. "The National Guard has shown us with their actions that they know we are not terrorists," Jones said at the vigil. "We are the citizens of Tennessee."
I could hope that our president would be guided by a similar understanding that there are real lives at stake with each call to violence he makes, but who am I kidding? He has an election to win and apparently a white supremacist agenda to prioritize.
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