President Donald Trump announced at the White House Rose Garden at 6:30 p.m. Monday that he is mobilizing federal resources, including military assets, to counteract violent and destructive rioting around the country.
Trump said he had instructed every governor to deploy their state’s National Guard units so that they can “dominate the streets.” He added that if governors do not deploy their National Guard units where appropriate, he would deploy the U.S. military instead.
“Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled,” Trump said. “If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United State military and quickly solve the problem for them.”
Trump delivered those remarks after criticizing governors earlier in the day for what he described as a “weak” approach to handling mass rioting in their states in recent days.
During his address, Trump mentioned several cases of disturbing violence amid ongoing protests over the death of the black man, George Floyd, in police custody on Monday of last week. Trump noted examples such as a man in Dallas, Texas who was beaten and “left dying on the street.”
“Small business owners have seen their dreams utterly destroyed,” Trump added. “New York’s finest have been hit in the face with bricks. Brave nurses who have battled the virus are afraid to leave their homes.”
Trump also noted vandalism at the Lincoln Memorial and World War II Memorial over the weekend, as well as the historic St. John’s Cathedral in Washington D.C. that was set on fire by arsonists Sunday.
A federal officer in California, an African American enforcement hero was shot and killed,” Trump said, referring to the shooting of a Department of Homeland Security officer in Oakland. “These are not acts of peaceful protests. These are acts of domestic terrorism.”
During his address, Trump also said he had dispatched “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers” in Washington D.C. to enforce a strict 7 p.m. curfew and to quell rioting.
“I want the organizers of this terror to be on notice that you will face severe criminal penalties and lengthy sentences in jail,” Trump said later on. “This includes Antifa and others who are leading instigators of this violence.”
Trump specifically named Antifa in his address after tweeting Sunday that he would seek to have the left-wing group designated as a terrorist organization.
Trump said that once law and order are restored, “we will help you, we will help your business and we will help your family.”
The planned White House address was initially scheduled for 6:15 p.m. but was delayed as Secret Service and police cleared out crowds of protesters outside the White House. The explosions of flash bangs and tear gas being fired could still be heard in the distance just before Trump delivered his remarks.
“Within ten minutes, all of the protesters in front of the White House were moved before the president began speaking in the Rose Garden. You can still hear flash bangs going off,” tweeted CNN reported Kaitlin Collins.