Law and order: if governors and mayors do not guarantee it, I will take care of mobilizing the federal army. We must guarantee justice for the killing of George Floyd, but we cannot leave the country at the mercy of a violent mass. The riot must end. These are no longer protests: these are acts of terrorism. We will defeat the “antifa” groups that instigate violence. America based on the rule of law: this is the key to our prosperity. On one of the most dramatic evenings in recent American history, Donald Trump addressed a message to the nation from the garden of the White House while, in the background, the outbreaks of the clashes taking place outside between demonstrators and law enforcement were heard.
There were also police officers on horseback to clear the squares around the presidential buildings. A few minutes later, when the curfew of 7 in the evening (1 in the night in Italy), Trump walked out of the White House through the areas just cleared by the agents and went to St John’s Church, the presidents’ church, whose crypt had been set on fire by demonstrators last night. But he did not enter to pray: he challenged a copy of the Bible and posed for a photo-symbol surrounded by his collaborators and ministers, from Barr (Justice) to Esper (Defense). It seemed the epilogue of another very difficult day. But the evening and the night were marked by other dramatic events: again sackings in New York, especially in Soho and in the Union Square area, despite the curfew, the first since 1943. An isolated hooligan even managed to get into the Macy’s department store, but was captured inside.
And then, fires in Atlanta and St Louis, Missouriwhile incidents continued in Washington after the curfew began at 7pm. For a while, police tolerated peaceful demonstrations until late in the evening, despite the fact that Trump had promised to be adamant about complying with the obligation to retire to homes even before dusk. In the square deployed the police, but also the soldiers of the National Guard, while hundreds of army soldiers were preparing in the suburbs of the capital. Trump can use them because the capital is not part of a state but an autonomous territory, the District or Columbia. To send the army to other states, the president will have to resort to a law of 1807, the Insurrection Act. A 213-year-old rule that has been used several times in American history: the last in California in 1992, to quell the insurgency born from the Rodney King case.
Democrats criticized Trump arguing that, due to its electoral staging in law and order style, it risks exacerbating tensions, sending peaceful demonstrators to the barricades: as were those who were blown away from Lafayette Square well before the start of the curfew, for clear the square and allow the president to walk to the church.
Another night of looting in New York (while in Washington the evening was a little calmer) ended a day in which the president had attacked the governors of the States hard during a morning video conference: If you don’t react with force ” he had said to them, “if you do not dominate the situation, you will become the laughing stock of the world: you are already acting as idiots. Trump, never tender in the reviews, for months in controversy with the governors for the management of the coronavirus crisis. Days of violence and destruction, carried out with urban guerrilla techniques, led him to exasperation. The president, who has always been determined to project an image of strength and superiority of the United States all over the world, today at the helm of a country in the bala of gangs of night looters. Thus came the eruption of anger, with the concepts of public order and civil coexistence reduced to the notion of domination: Idiots, if you are not able to dominate, waste your time and make yourself ridiculous before the world.
Then Trump targeted what he says are the real directors of the uprising: Other than groups of white supremacy: this Antifa work that we will declare terrorist organizations. In fact, these nuclei of the radical and rebel left have multiplied and are very active in the scenes of the clashes, but the generically defined anti-fascist groups do not have a well-defined and identifiable structure. However, outbreaks are now everywhere and governors in as many as 26 states have already asked for the intervention of the National Guard. Before the vigorous interventions around the White House, the presidential residence had been attacked several times, with 60 secret service agents (the president’s security officers) injured, and Trump who on Friday night was forced, as a precaution, to repair in the underground bunker built during the Second World War.
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