The president’s opponents and former military leaders condemned his response as incendiary, as a country ravaged by the coronavirus and unemployment plunged further into crisis.
Arrest warrants have been issued for six Atlanta police officers, prosecutors said, after video footage of officers firing Tasers and dragging two college students out of a car on Saturday ignited outrage.
After President Trump threatened to deploy the military to crack down on protesters, his opponents and former military leaders condemned the response as incendiary, as a country ravaged by the coronavirus and unemployment plunged further into crisis on Tuesday.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, the likely Democratic nominee for president, said during a speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday that the nation was “crying out for leadership” and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, criticized Mr. Trump for being a “fanner of the flame” of division. Retired senior military leaders also spoke out against the strategy of deploying active-duty units onto America’s streets.
The comments came a day after Mr. Trump vowed to bring “law and order” to the country and after officers used tear gas and flash grenades to clear a crowd outside the White House, to make way for the president to pose for photographs outside a nearby, boarded-up church, holding a Bible.
“If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are 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,” Mr. Trump said in remarks in the Rose Garden on Monday night.
Experts say the limits of the president’s powers is unclear. One federal law allows a president to use the military to quell insurrection, particularly if a state requests the intervention, while another law generally restricts use of the armed forces for domestic law enforcement. Both laws date to the 19th century and have been amended several times.
Mr. Trump’s comments represented an escalation in political rhetoric more than a week after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis ignited nationwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality. The daily protests, which have spread to at least 140 cities across the country, have been among the most widespread civil unrest the nation has seen in half a century.
After a seventh day of largely peaceful protests on Monday, the demonstrations once again devolved into clashes and chaos overnight, with widespread looting and at least six police officers reported shot in incidents around the country. The clashes have also resulted in the injury of protesters, and police officers in several cities have been fired or disciplined for harsh tactics.
As the movement dominated the national conversation on Tuesday, millions of people went silent on social media in order to better amplify the voices of black people, under the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday.
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