President Trump promised that he “will fight to protect” the nation in an address from the Rose Garden Monday night as protestors clashed with police less than a mile away amid nationwide protests stemming from the death of George Floyd.
“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 stated in his address, adding that he was dispatching “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers military personnel” to the nation’s capitol after widespread rioting. “These are not acts of peaceful protest. These are acts of domestic terror,” he warned.
“I will fight to protect you. I am your president of law and order, and an ally of all peaceful protestors,” the president stated.
Trump also proposed to invoke the Insurrection Act, a 19th century law that allows him to deploy the military domestically, if governors do not deploy “the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets.” Earlier Monday, Trump repeatedly told the nation’s governors to “dominate” the situation. Following his address, Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker said on CNN that it would be “illegal” for Trump to deploy troops. While use of the law is rare, then-president George H. W. Bush invoked the law in 1992 to send the military into Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots.
Trump ended his speech by saying he would go “pay respects” to a “very special place,” and then left the White House to walk over and make a visit to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church — which was burned by rioters on Sunday night.
“Greatest country in the world. And we’re going to keep it safe,” Trump said — while posing for photos with a Bible.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article and a previous headline reported that tear gas was used to disperse protesters in Lafayette Park based on the accounts of numerous reporters on the ground. That detail has been removed since it is now unclear whether tear gas was in fact used. The Park Police, who served as the main force dispersing the rioters, issued a statement Tuesday evening in which they claim no tear gas was used. Instead, the Park Police claim they used “smoke canisters” and “pepper balls” to disperse the crowd. The Secret Service, who were also on scene when the rioters were driven from the park, have refused to say whether they deployed tear gas.