US President Donald Trump said on Saturday that the federal government was considering using the military to intervene in protests over the killing of George Floyd while in police custody.
“We have our military ready, willing and able,” Trump told reporters before departing for Florida. “We can have our military there very quickly.”
On Twitter, Trump wrote the federal government will use “the unlimited power of our military” as well as carry out arrests.
The Pentagon said it was ready to provide military help to contain unrest in Minneapolis, the city where Floyd was killed. So far, the governor of Minnesota has not requested it.
If he did so, the federal forces would likely primarily comprise of military police to provide logistical support but would not get directly involved, defense officials told the Associated Press.
National Guard called up
Dozens of cities across the US, including Atlanta and Washington, DC, braced for further protests on Saturday, after some of the anti-police brutality and anti-racism demonstrations turned violent.
At a protest in Tallahassee, Florida, a suspect drove a pickup truck through a crowd of protesters gathered at an intersection, hitting some of them. The driver was later arrested and no one was seriously injured, local officials said.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz moved to fully mobilize the state’s National Guard on Saturday, vowing a show of force to shut down unrest that has seen vehicles and buildings destroyed.
“The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd,” Walz said. “It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great cities.”
Trump’s remarks sparked further outrage after he threatened that if protesters breached the White House grounds, they “would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs and most ominous weapons I have ever seen.”
Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said the remarks “are an attack on humanity, an attack on black America and they make my city less safe.”
Protest in Berlin
The protests have also spread internationally, with thousands of people taking to the streets in the German capital to protest Floyd’s death and against racism.
The protesters gathered in front of the US Embassy in Berlin, wearing face masks and chanting “black lives matter,” NBC’s Carl Nasman reported
Outrage over killing of George Floyd
George Floyd was an African-American man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis after footage emerged of him in handcuffs pleading for air as a police officer kneeled on his neck. Derek Chauvin, one of the four police officers, was arrested and charged with murder Friday morning following three days of protests.
The protests began in Minneapolis after the footage of Floyd’s killing emerged earlier this week. Demonstrations later spread to other cities across the country.
Floyd’s death, one of the latest high-profile killings of an unarmed black person by police, have tapped into a well of anger over the treatment of the black community and other people of color in the US.
The protests are also coming amid the coronavirus pandemic which has seen tens of millions of people in US lose their jobs and which has disproportionately affected black people, highlighting discrepancies in health care treatment.
rs/nm (AP, dpa, Reuters)
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