Trump says he’ll use military to quell protest violence

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / tmainiero

After violent protests erupted in cities across the U.S., President Donald Trump said he’ll turn to the army.

In an address Monday afternoon in the Rose Garden of the White House, Trump said he will invoke the Insurrection Act by sending federal troops into cities that have erupted in rioting in the wake of the police-involved death of George Floyd, an African American man, in Minnesota. The president said he will send troops if state governors are unable to get a handle on any violence.

“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,” said Trump via NBC News.

If Trump does invoke the act, it will be the first time since it was written in 1807 that a president would do so without the request of a state’s governor. The last time the act was invoked was in 1992, when President George H.W. Bush sent troops to Los Angeles during the Rodney King riot.

Widespread protests have been held in dozens of cities across North America in the days since Floyd, 46, died after being held down by a Minneapolis police officer. The officer, who was seen on video pressing his knee onto a prone, handcuffed Floyd while he complained about being unable to breathe, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Violence broke out in Minneapolis after Floyd’s death, along with other U.S. cities. In Atlanta, demonstrators attacked and wrecked CNN Center, the headquarters of the cable news organization. Trump was reportedly whisked to a White House bunker for his safety after violence near the mansion in Washington, D.C. got out of control Friday night.

National Guardsman have been deployed in many cities to restore order, but unlike federal troops, only state governors have the power to send Guardsmen into these situations. Curfews have also been imposed.

In Detroit, a protest that started peacefully became violent Friday night as demonstrators threw objects at police officers and damaged police cars. WXYZ-TV reported that a 19-year-old man was shot to death, but police were not involved.