Slotkin Denounces Threat to Use U.S. Military Against Protestors
June 2, 2020
By Jon King / firstname.lastname@example.org
8th District Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin has denounced President Trump’s announcement threatening to deploy active-duty forces to quell protests against police brutality.
Trump said on Monday that he was recommending governors deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers to “dominate the streets.” The president says if governors fail to take action, he will deploy the United States military and “quickly solve the problem for them.” His statements came as the U.S. braced for another round of violence during protests over the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
In a statement released late Monday, Slotkin said that as the wife and step-mom to Army officers, and as someone who has worked alongside the U.S. military in a combat zone, the President’s statement on the use of the U.S. military in American cities –– with the support of the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs –– has “pained” her. “We now find ourselves at an inflection point: their actions threaten our First Amendment right to protest deep-rooted injustices, and risk long-term damage to one of the few U.S. institutions that enjoys credibility and non-partisan support. The next week will be crucial to determine whether the threats to use military force will be carried out.”
Slotkin says that over the past several days, “the President has threatened the use of “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons,” and told Governors that he would deploy active duty troops to their states if they didn’t comply.” She also noted that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper described American cities as “battlespace” to “dominate” by force. Slotkin hoped that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley, who Trump designated as being “in charge” of the federal response to the protests, would think “seriously about the moral and ethical issues surrounding his role in the coming days.”
In order to carry out his threat, President Trump would need to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807, which was last used in 1992 to quell the Los Angeles riots after the acquittal of four white police officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King. The act was last amended in 2006 following the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina a year earlier. It authorizes "the President to employ the armed forces during a natural disaster or terrorist attack." However, it does not necessarily require the approval of a state's governor to deploy troops, stating that, "Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States, make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, he may call into Federal service such of the militia of any State, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to enforce those laws or to suppress the rebellion."
Slotkin also decried the decision Monday night to have police to use tear gas to clear Lafayette Park across from the White House, where several thousand protesters had gathered for another night of demonstrations, just before President Trump made a surprise visit to St. John’s Church, which had been damaged by protesters Sunday night. "And then, tonight, we saw the images of military police clearing an unarmed, peaceful protest with tear gas so that the President, Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, in uniform, could walk across a park for a photo op. It seemed to confirm that the President and senior Pentagon leadership are willing to use the military to further their political objectives. That they are willing to weaponize one sacred, American institution against another.
Slotkin ended her statement by saying the next week will be “critical” as we are “at a crossroads. I hope our veterans speak out and stand up for the core values they believe in. This is a dangerous path for our institutions, our military –– and our nation."