Military police help clear a street near the White House in Washington, D.C., during a demonstration Monday to protest the Minnesota police killing of George Floyd. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo
June 1 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Monday evening declared he was mobilizing all federal resources in response to protests over the police-involved killing of George Floyd and encouraged all governors to deploy the National Guard in their states.
Trump called on mayors and governors to establish an "overwhelming law enforcement presence" and said he will deploy the United States military if state and local governments do not "take the action necessary to defend the life and property of their residents."
"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."
In order to activate the military to operate in the United States, Trump would have to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807, which White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany had earlier described to reporters as "one of the tools available" to the president.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker pushed back on the legality of Trump's declaration saying the state would not request military assistance.
"It's illegal, he can't do it and we won't request military assistance in the state of Illinois," said Pritzker.
The president vowed justice for Floyd and said he was an "ally of all peaceful protesters" while also describing himself as "your president of law and order."
Trump said that a 7 p.m. curfew in Washington, D.C., would be strictly enforced and that he would deploy federal forces and law enforcement in response to protests in the capital.
"As we speak, 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," Trump said.
Loud bangs were heard during Trump's speech and law enforcement charged protesters and fired tear gas into crowds as the president posed for a photo in front of St. John's Church.
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser condemned the actions of federal law enforcement in a tweet on Monday night.
"I imposed a curfew at 7 p.m. A full 25 minutes before the curfew and without provocation, federal police used munitions on peaceful protesters in front of the White House, an act that will make the job of [Washington, D.C., police] officers more difficult. Shameful!" Bowser wrote.
The former secretary of state and Trump's opponent in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, also spoke out against the actions against protesters on Monday evening.
"This is a horrifying use of presidential power against our own citizens and has no place anywhere, let alone in America. Vote," Clinton wrote on Twitter.
And House Speak Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer admonished Trump in a joint statement for "tear-gassing peaceful protesting without provocation" to hold the photo opportunity outside the church "dishonors every value that fair teaches us."
Trump participated in a video conference on Monday with state leaders and law enforcement authorities to address unrest nationwide stemming from Floyd's death.
The White House conference call occurred after ongoing demonstrations across the United States -- many of which were peaceful and some which were violent.
Thousands of demonstrators were arrested over the weekend after clashing with police and defying curfews in numerous major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, Chicago, Seattle and Salt Lake City.
Trump participated in the call with state governors, law enforcement officials and national security advisers at the White House, who said the meeting focused on "keeping American communities safe."
Trump told governors to "take back your streets" and criticized local leaders for their response to the violent demonstrations.
"Most of you are weak," he said. "You have to arrest people."
Later Monday, McEnany said Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would be in charge of a "central command center" that would coordinate National Guard response.
About 17,000 National Guard troops are deployed in 24 states to help with policing protests that have turned violent in some states, McEnany said, but states have 350,000 total National Guard troops available nationwide.
National Guard troops are under the jurisdiction of state governors. National Guard members in some states have been deployed to help with coronavirus pandemic response, including manning drive-through testing stations.
McEnany also confirmed that Trump spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, but did not say what was discussed.
On Sunday night, the Secret Service moved Trump to a secure bunker beneath the White House for the second time in three nights. He was also taken to the bunker, which was built to house the president in the event of a nuclear attack, on Friday night.
Trump was moved to the bunker as a precaution due to growing demonstrations late Sunday near the White House and the National Mall.
The activism began peaceful earlier but turned violent after dark, with some demonstrators setting multiple fires. Washington, D.C., police fired pepper bullets and tear gas to disperse protesters.
Video footage of Floyd's arrest, which included a Minneapolis officer kneeling on his neck, has spurred widespread outrage across the United States.
An independent autopsy on Monday found Floyd's death was a homicide and that he died of "asphyxiation from sustained pressure."
The autopsy said compression to Floyd's neck and back as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck and other officers knelt on his back led to a lack of blood flow to his brain and that he was "dead on the scene."
"The independent examiners found that weight on the back, handcuffs and positioning were contributory factors because they impaired the ability of Mr. Floyd's diaphragm to function," a statement by the family's lead attorney Ben Crump said.
An official autopsy released last week suggested that Floyd had underlying health conditions and "potential intoxicants in his system" that likely contributed to his death along with the police restraint.
Dr. Michael Baden, one of the pathologists who performed the independent autopsy said Floyd had no underlying medical problems that contributed to his death.
"Police have this false impression that if you can talk, you can breathe. That's not true," Baden said.
Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder, and a criminal complaint from the Hennepin County Attorney's Office said that Chauvin had his knee on Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in total and 2 minutes and 53 seconds after Floyd was unresponsive.
Floyd's family called for Chauvin to be charged with first-degree murder and for the other officers present to be charged in his death.
"For Chauvin to leave his knee on George's neck despite warnings and evidence that his life was in danger -- and to continue that course for many minutes -- demands a first-degree murder charge," said Crump.
Monday was the seventh straight night of mass demonstrations nationwide following Floyd's death, which occurred May 25, with many joining Floyd's family in their call for more severe punishment for the officers involved as well as opposing widespread police violence against African Americans.
The Baltimore Police Department announced that it had activated the Maryland State Police to "moderate crowds" in the downtown area.
"Officers have observed members in the crowd setting off illegal fireworks and throwing objects near peaceful protesters and officers," the department said.
Police in Richmond, Va., Monday night tweeted that they deployed tear gas into a crowd of protesters they said were attempting to pull down statues on Monument Ave. warning they are "extremely heavy and would crush anyone standing too close."
Atlanta police and the National Guard swept through the streets and pushed protesters out of the downtown area as a curfew in the area came into effect, CNN reported.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the city's curfew would be extended an additional day beginning at 8 p.m. on Tuesday citing groups using the protests to "incite violence and destroy property" on Monday when a curfew went into effect at 11 p.m.
"Some people are out tonight not to protest but to destroy property and hurt others -- and those people are being arrested. Their actions are unacceptable and we won't allow them in our city," de Blasio wrote on Twitter.
The order was accompanied by a doubling of NYPD officers assigned to keep order, it read.
It is the first time the city had ordered a curfew in recent member, the city said.
However, early Tuesday, de Blasio said via Twitter there were "real problems" in the Bronx where there have been reports of fires and looting.
De Blasio said he's spoken with NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea and Chief Fausto Pichardo "who are sending additional help.
At around midnight, the mayor said he was leaving the Barclays Center where the situation was "pretty calm" before heading back to Midtown.
In Cicero, a Chicago suburb, town spokesman Ray Hanania said four people were shot, two fatally, and 60 people were arrested Monday.
Hanania blamed "outside agitators" for the shooting, stating they came to Cicero after being "rebuffed" by the closure of downtown Chicago, WGN9 reported.
"The only shots fired have been by these outside agitators and looters who are not Cicero residents," he said.
The Cicero Police Department confirmed via Twitter dozens of arrests were made in response to the violence and looking "brought to our borders today."
A man was shot dead during gunfire in Louisville, Ky., early Monday. Authorities said at least one demonstrator began firing at police and National Guard members, who returned fire.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer identified the man who was killed as David McAtee and announced that Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad had been relieved of duty after it was revealed officers involved in the shooting did not activate their body cameras.
The two officers involved were placed on administrative leave.
In St. Louis, Mo., authorities said four police officers were shot amid protests over Monday night.
The shooting occurred near police headquarters in the city where officers repeatedly clashed with protesters, firing multiple volleys of tear gas and flash bangs to disperse the crowds, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
"Officers are still taking gunfire downtown & we will share more info as it is available," the St. Louis Police Department said in a tweet.
The wounded officers were "conscious and breathing" and were transported to a local hospital with what are thought to be non-life-threatening injuries.
Among the damage in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C., headquarters of the AFL CIO labor union was targeted and set afire, officials said.
"We categorically reject those on the fringes who are engaging in violence and destroying property," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement. "Attacks like [this] are senseless, disgraceful and only play into the hands of those who have oppressed workers of color for generations."
Two people were shot dead in Iowa and two others, including a police officer, were injured amid dozens of instances of gunfire.
New York City police said they arrested more than 200 people between late Sunday and early Monday and some residents awoke to find several high-end stores in the SoHo district looted and vandalized, including such mainstays as Bloomingdale's, Tori Burch and Gucci.
Police officials said anarchist groups from outside the city using encrypted communication channels were to blame for much of the destruction, estimating that about one in seven protesters were from out of town.
"Crossing State lines to incite violence is a FEDERAL CRIME!" Trump tweeted on Saturday. "Liberal governors and mayors must get MUCH tougher or the federal government will step in and do what has to be done, and that includes using the unlimited power of our military and many arrests."
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who declined to impose a curfew, praised police for showing restraint but also voiced concern over some video footage of police clashing with protesters.
"The protesters are human beings. They need to be treated with tremendous respect," he said. "The police officers are human beings. They need to be treated with tremendous respect."
CNN reported that de Blasio's daughter Chiara was among the nearly 800 arrested in New York City. She was briefly held for unlawful assembly and released.
In Southern California, looters vandalized a number of stores and set fire to businesses in Santa Monica and Long Beach on Sunday. Both incidents came after mostly peaceful demonstrations.
Long Beach police said the crowd ultimately swelled to around 3,000 demonstrators, some of whom began looting businesses. Authorities said early Monday an unspecified number of arrests were made on charges of looting, burglary and curfew violations.
Officers in some states, including New York, Oregon and Kentucky, showed solidarity with activists by taking a knee to condemn police brutality.
U.S. protests death of George Floyd
Black Lives Matter
protesters clash with New York Police Department officers during demonstrations in New York City on May 29. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo