US President Donald Trump said that peaceful protests following the death of African-American man George Floyd in police custody were derailed by acts of domestic terrorism.
“These are not acts of peaceful protests, these are acts of domestic terror – the destruction of innocent life, and the spilling of innocent blood is an offence to humanity and a crime against God,” Trump said during a press briefing on Monday.
Trump also added that the chaos is the work of professional agitators and provocateurs – anarchists and the far-left movement Antifa, among others – and put them on notice, vowing to enforce law and order.
An independent autopsy commissioned by Floyd’s family found that he died of asphyxia due to sustained pressure to his neck and back, his family said in a statement on Monday.
“The evidence is consistent with mechanical asphyxia as the cause of death,” Dr Allecia Wilson, one of the examiner was quoted as saying by CNN. “Sustained pressure on the right side of Floyd’s carotid artery impeded blood flow to the brain, and weight on his back impeded his ability to breathe,” he added.
The statement further said the medical examiners believe, based on all available evidence, that Floyd died at the scene due to “asphyxiation from sustained pressure.”
Trump further said, “Those who threaten innocent life and property will be arrested, detained and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I want the organizers of this terror to be on notice that you will face severe criminal penalties and lengthy sentences in jail. This includes Antifa and others who are leading instigators.”
The US president also that he is invoking an 1807 law to mobilize the military around the country to “quickly solve the problem.””I am also taking swift and decisive action to protect our capital Washington DC. As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldier, military personnel and enforcement officers to stop the rioting,” Trump said during a press briefing.
An Active duty military police battalion, consisting of 200 to 250 personnel has been deployed to Washington, DC, to deal with the protests.
According to CNN, the troops are expected to provide security in District of Columbia (DC) but not perform law enforcement duties such as arrest and detention of protesters or rioters.
An additional 600-800 National Guard members from five states have been requested to supplement the DC National Guard responding to civil unrest.
Trump said mayors and governors must establish an “overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled.” If the city or state refuses to take the actions, Trump said he would deploy the US military.
Trump recommended every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that will dominate the streets.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that there are people who are looking to discredit the ongoing protests.
New York City has been put under curfew starting at 11 pm and will be lifted at 5 am.
‘I stand behind the protestors and their message, but unfortunately, there are people who are looking to distract and discredit this moment,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement.
Trump on Monday also said that all Americans are rightly ‘sickened by the brutal death’ of George Floyd and his administration is fully committed to providing justice to George and his family.
“All Americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd. My administration is fully committed, the justice will be fully served for George and his family and He will not have died in vain,” Trump said.
“My first and highest duty as president is to defend and protect the great country and the American people. I have sworn an oath to uphold the laws of our nation and that is exactly what I will do,” he added.
Trump continued: “I am your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters. but in recent days, our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa and others.“
Trump further said that he can not allow the righteous cry and peaceful protesters to be drawn out by an angry mob.
Police used teargas to disperse crowds of protesters near the White House ahead of Trump’s speech in the Rose Garden.
After the media address, Trump made a surprise visit to the damaged St Johns church near White House, walking through park violently cleared of protesters. He walked to the church across the street from the White House after tear gas was fired at protesters in the area.
Meanwhile, former president Barack Obama on Monday condemned the violence and called for political solutions to address protesters’ grievances about criminal justice.
“The protests represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system. We should condemn the few who resort to violence–not the overwhelming majority who deserve our respect and support,” Obama tweeted.
“The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable. But eventually, we have to translate those aspirations into specific laws and institutional practices,” he added.