While speaking from the White House Rose Garden on Monday, 1 June, United States President Donald Trump said the violent protests in Washington DC over the death of George Floyd were a “disgrace” and warned that a curfew will be “strictly enforced,” even as protestors were pushed out of the park by authorities ahead of his address.
Floyd died on 25 May after he was pinned at the neck by a Minneapolis police officer.
“My first and highest duty as president is to defend our great country and the American people. I swore an oath to uphold the laws of our nation and that is what I will do,” Trump said, reported news agency IANS.
Organisers of the “terror” will face severe criminal penalties and lengthy sentences in jail, he said. In this regard, Trump mentioned those connected to the movement Antifa (short for anti-fascists), saying they will be termed “domestic terrorists”.
“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,” the US president added.
Trump said he will mobilise all available federal resources to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans.
“All Americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd,” says Trump, promising “he will not have died in vain.”
However, the president added that Floyd's memory must not be “drowned out by an angry mob.”
“I am your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protests,” he continued.
“But in recent days our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa, and others. A number of state and local governments have failed to take necessary action to safeguard their residents," he added.
Earlier on Monday, Trump told governors during a phone call that they were “weak” and were being laughed at by the world because of their response to protests.
“Healing not hatred. Justice not chaos. This is our mission and we will succeed 100 percent. We will succeed. Our country always wins,” Trump said.
“These are not acts of peaceful protest,” said Trump. “These are acts of domestic terror.”
“The destruction of innocent life and the spilling of innocent blood is an offence to humanity and a crime against God,” he said as he visited the St John's Episcopal Church that has been attended by every US president since James Madison in 1816. The church suffered a suspected arson attack on Sunday night, but the basement fire was quickly extinguished with only minor damage.
Standing outside the church, Trump held up a Bible, flanked by aides, and said: "We have the greatest country in the world. I'm going to keep it nice and safe."
At Least 5 Dead as Protests Flare Up Across the Country
Violent clashes erupted outside the White House between the military, park police and protesters demonstrating against police brutality as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the demonstrators ahead of the President’s address.
Before Trump spoke, armed officers in riot gear pushed protesters out of the park and several blocks away.
An Army Black Hawk helicopter descended to the rooftop level in the Chinatown district of Washington on Monday night, The New York Times reported.
The manoeuvre, often conducted by low-flying jets in combat zones to scare away insurgents, is known as a show of force.
Curfews have been ordered in at least 25 cities including Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. In Minnesota – where Floyd was killed – the state’s entire national guard was mobilised on Saturday to try to prevent further trouble.
At least five people have died, and scores have been injured including protesters and police officers.
(With inputs from IANS, The New York Times and NDTV.)