President Donald Trump is threatening to use the military to quash uprisings related to the extrajudicial deaths of Black people.
On Monday, Trump gave a speech in which he threatened to use the military to stop rioting in the United States.
“I am mobilizing all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting, to end the destruction and arson and to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your Second Amendment rights,” Trump said.
“We are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country. We will end it now,” he continued.
During the speech, Trump dubbed himself “your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters.” He also expressed a willingness to bypass the wishes of state politicians to enforce order.
“If a city or state refuses to take the actions 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 declared.
Hours before, the president criticized the nation’s governors for not doing enough to end the violence occurring in their states, according to NBC News.
“Most of you are weak,” he reportedly said to them on a conference call with the governors. “You have to dominate. If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you. You’re going to look like a bunch of jerks.”
To deploy the military, Trump would have to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807. Under the law, the president can use active service members to carry out domestic law enforcement duties in the states.
“Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages or rebellion against authority of United States makes it impracticable to enforce the law of the United States in any State or territory by judicial proceedings, the President may call into Federal service the militia of any State and use the Federal military to enforce the laws or suppress the rebellion,” the code states.
It was used by Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy to enforce desegregation policy. The last time it was enforced was in 1992, after the Los Angeles Police officers who beat Rodney King were acquitted. If Trump uses the act, he must issue a proclamation to “immediately order the insurgents to disperse and retire peaceably to their abodes within a limited time.”
The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 generally forbids the use of military forces for law enforcement in states. Federal territories, such as Washington, D.C., are not covered by Posse Comitatus, which explains why Trump was able to deploy military troops to clear Lafayette Park — which is across the street from the White House — of peaceful protesters Monday just minutes before his Rose Garden speech began at roughly 6:40 p.m., a show of force many decried as a blatant abuse of power.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany later told reporters Trump is considering his options.
“The Insurrection Act, it’s one of the tools available,” she said during a press briefing on Monday. “Whether the president decides to pursue that, that’s his prerogative.”