WASHINGTON, DC — President Donald Trump delivered remarks in the Rose Garden Monday evening after deriding many governors as “weak” and demanded tougher crackdowns on burning and stealing among some demonstrations in the aftermath of violent protests in dozens of American cities.
Trump declared himself “your president of law and order” during his remarks as a large group of peaceful protesters just outside the White House gates were dispersed with tear gas and flash bangs.
With the constant sound of helicopter blades overhead and a steady succession of bangs from nearby, Trump said from the Rose Garden he was committed to upholding laws and mobilizing military resources to end nationwide looting.
“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.
As Trump spoke, an incredible TV split screen developed around the White House. While he addressed the nation in the White House’s idyllic Rose Garden, a series of military vehicles rolled out front on Pennsylvania Avenue and military police and law enforcement clashed with protesters at Lafayette Park.
Trump said he would mobilize “thousands and thousands” of soldiers to keep the peace if governors did not use the National Guard to shut down the protests. Loud tear gas explosions could be heard as authorities moved what appeared to be peaceful protests in the park. The escalation came just after Attorney General William Barr came to the park to to survey the demonstrators.
According to senior defense officials, between 600 and 800 National Guard members from five states were being sent to Washington to provide assistance. Those troops were either already on the ground or will arrive by midnight.
Under the Civil War-era Posse Comitatus Act, federal troops are prohibited from performing domestic law enforcement actions such as making arrests, seizing property or searching people. In extreme cases, however, the president can invoke the Insurrection Act, also from the Civil War, which allows the use of active-duty or National Guard troops for law enforcement.
The officials said that some of the National Guard in D.C. will be armed and others will not. They said that the D.C. guard members do not have non-lethal weapons. The military police that are visible in the city are members of the Guard.