WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Tuesday turned up the pressure on governors to quell the violence set off by the death of George Floyd.
As cities around the U.S. witnessed a seventh straight night of both peaceful demonstrations and bursts of theft, vandalism and attacks on police, the president amplified his hardline calls of a day earlier, in which he threatened to send in the military to restore order if governors didn’t do it.
“NYC, CALL UP THE NATIONAL GUARD,” he tweeted. “The lowlifes and losers are ripping you apart. Act fast! Don’t make the same horrible and deadly mistake you made with the Nursing Homes!!!”
In New York on Monday night, people smashed shop windows near Rockefeller Center and breached the doors of Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street despite the first curfew in the city in decades. Police said nearly 700 people were arrested and several officers injured in the overnight violence.
More than 20,000 National Guard members have been called up in 29 states to deal with the violence. New York is not among them. De Blasio has said he does not want the Guard, and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he will not send it into the city against the mayor’s wishes.
Some protesters framed the burgeoning movement as a necessity after a string of killings by police.
“I fear for my safety every time I get in the car to go for a drive. I fear of getting pulled over. I fear for all 10 of my brothers’ and sisters’ lives, for my parents’ lives!” 19-year-old Amari Burroughs of Parkland, Florida, said Tuesday as she prepared for another protest. “My goal is to use my voice and my leadership to make this world safer so that one day I can bring children here and won’t have to fear for their safety.”
More than 5,600 people nationwide have been arrested over the past week for such offenses as stealing, blocking highways and breaking curfew, according to a count by The Associated Press.
A senior White House official said Tuesday that despite Trump’s threats, the goal was to pressure governors to deploy more National Guard members. The president is not rushing to use the Insurrection Act to send in the military, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The unrest in Minneapolis, meanwhile, appeared to stabilize on the same day Floyd’s brother made an impassioned plea for peace at the spot where a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, put his knee on the handcuffed black man’s neck for several minutes, even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.
Chauvin has been charged with murder. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said Tuesday that prosecutors were working as fast as they can to determine if the three other officers at the scene should be charged too. All four have been fired.
Sending the military into the states would mark a stunning federal intervention rarely seen in modern American history. It drew comparisons to 1968, when Richard Nixon ran as the law-and-order candidate in the aftermath of riots following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Federal law allows presidents to dispatch the military into states to suppress an insurrection or if a state is defying federal law, legal experts said.
Tuesday morning, President Trump toured a Catholic shrine in his second straight religious-themed appearance. The White House said Trump and first lady Melania Trump were observing a “moment of remembrance,” laying a wreath in a quiet visit to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine.
The visit came a day after Trump declared himself to be the “president of law and order” and then walked to St. John’s Episcopal Church across from the White House after Lafayette Park was cleared of protesters. He held up a Bible for photos in front of the church, known as “The Church of the Presidents,” which had been damaged by fire during weekend protests.