MINNEAPOLIS, MN – How different would protests and riots be if they were countered with military units such as the 101st Airborne?
That is exactly what Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) suggested if local law enforcement were overwhelmed and local politicians were unwilling to act to quell rioting and looting.
In an interview with Fox News on June 1, Cotton brought up the Insurrection Act as the basis upon which President Trump might deploy active duty military units to stop the damage of riots in response to the death of George Floyd.
Floyd died on May 25 while in the custody of Minneapolis police. Widely circulated cell phone video showed Minneapolis PD officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes before EMS arrived and took Floyd, who had complained that he could not breathe and then passed out, to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Do you agree with Sen. Tom Cotton about deploying the 101st Airborne to all of the cities in the US being burned to the ground???pic.twitter.com/gkMYeW0Ck6
— Kash Jackson (@KashJackson2018) June 1, 2020
Chauvin and three other officers involved were subsequently fired on May 26 and Chauvin was arrested on May 29 and charged with third degree murder under Minnesota state law.
Over the next few days and night, protests started, many of them peaceful, in response the Floyd’s death.
Soon, however, those protests turned into full-scale rioting not just in Minneapolis but in over 40 major cities throughout the country.
Governors across the country activated the National Guard to assist local law enforcement as they tried to contain the riots and minimize loss of property and loss of life. In some cases, the Guard’s presence reduced the violence.
In others, rioting continued and lives were lost to violence, including a security guard at a federal facility in Oakland, CA.
So far, all efforts have been state by state. But what happens if state and local authorities no longer have the resources to maintain order? What if rioters gain too much strength and overwhelm current efforts? What, if anything, can the federal government do to help?
"No quarter" from the NYT:
"Democratic politics is now defined by a mood of emergency, and a give-no-quarter ethos…."
CC @DavidAFrench and other twitter scholars
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) June 1, 2020
In his Fox News interview, Cotton suggested that President Trump could exercise the Insurrection Act of 1807. Under the Constitution, the President cannot deploy the military on domestic soil except in the case of foreign invaders or an insurrection.
U.S. Code § 252 [Use of militia and armed forces to enforce Federal authority] says:
“Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States, make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, he may call into Federal service such of the militia of any State, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to enforce those laws or to suppress the rebellion.”
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) June 1, 2020
In layman’s terms, the Insurrection Act authorizes the President to involve active duty military units to maintain order and stop anything he judges to be attacks.
While this seems cut and dry at face value, there are some issues that would need to be addressed, such as the rules of engagement.
Would soldiers be allowed to open fire on their fellow citizens? Under what conditions?
Would the military have power of arrest or would Martial Law have to be invoked since the military typically does not have civilian power of arrest?
How long would the military be engaged with rioters? At what point is the rioting considered contained enough for the military to stand down and local law enforcement to take back over?
Several court cases and Federal statutes address the questions about the level of force allowed under the Insurrection Act – basically whatever force is necessary to restore order – but there is no limit as to how long troops can be used.
Should Trump choose to invoke the Insurrection Act, it would not be unprecedented. The last time it was authorized was 1992 in response to the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. Local first responders were quickly overwhelmed by the violence on the streets of Southern California, so President George H. W. Bush authorized the military to intercede.
Will Trump authorize troops to step in? It remains to be seen, but he certainly has the authority.
Just days ago, President Trump declared Antifa, who is reportedly behind much of the protesting, a domestic terrorist organization.
Here’s Law Enforcement Today’s report on that again.
WASHINGTON D.C.- After nights of violence – in many states fueled by Antifa militants – President Trump announced on Sunday that the United States of America will be designating it as a terrorist organization.
Last July, two Republican senators pushed to label the anti-fascist group Antifa as “domestic terrorists”.
The move came after their protests in Portland, Oregon where a conservative journalist was attacked.
The two senators are Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.).
They proposed the resolution to the Senate to condemn the actions taken by Antifa and to mark the group as “domestic terrorists.”
The two put out a statement where Cruz went after Antifa, calling them “a group of hateful, intolerant radicals” that use “aggressive violence” to advance their “unhinged agenda” and that their “actions” have shown that their “only purpose” was to “inflict harm on those who oppose their views.”
“Antifa is a group of hateful, intolerant radicals who pursue their unhinged agenda through aggressive violence,” Sen. Cruz said.
“Time and time again, their actions have demonstrated that their only purpose is to inflict harm on those who oppose their views.
The hate and violence they spread must be stopped, and I am proud to introduce this resolution with Senator Cassidy to properly identify what Antifa are: domestic terrorists.”
Cassidy also went after the group in his statement.
He called them “violent masked bullies” that are “protected by liberal privilege” when they “‘fight fascism’ with actual fascism” and called for “courage, not cowardice” by elected officials “who allow violence against the innocent.”
“Antifa are terrorists, violent masked bullies who ‘fight fascism’ with actual fascism, protected by Liberal privilege,” said Dr. Cassidy. “With bullies, they get their way until someone says no. There must be courage, not cowardice, from the elected officials who allow violence against the innocent.”
In the actual resolution, it references the attack on conservative journalist Andy Ngo during an Antifa protest in Portland in June.
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) June 29, 2019
In July, authorities in Portland, Oregon started calling for laws that will help curb violence at demonstrations. Among those laws would be one that would prohibit protestors from wearing masks.
What happened to @MrAndyNgo is horrible and inexcusable. The #mayor @tedwheeler should be resign for what he has done to #portland. I feel bad for the @PortlandPolice having their hands tied. The socialists with #antifa are dangerous and un-American. pic.twitter.com/k7PV2YTUgW
— Tim Kennedy (@TimKennedyMMA) June 30, 2019
Another would allow police to videotape demonstrations and would also give the city more control over rallies organized by groups that have violent histories.
“We cannot allow people to continue to use the guise of free speech to commit a crime,’’ police Chief Danielle Outlaw said in a Wednesday news conference.
That conference was held to address the violence in June during three competing downtown demonstrations.
— Jimmy Dore (@jimmy_dore) June 29, 2019
A number of people were hurt during them when ANTIFA battled with conservative protestors with the Proud Boys and supporters of the #HimToo movement.
Oregon wouldn’t be the first state. 15 other states and a number of countries have anti-mask laws.
Not surprisingly, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon said it’s a violation of the Constitution.
“A policy that prohibits wearing a mask to a protest will have police focusing on the wrong issue,” said Sarah Armstrong.
She’s a spokeswoman for the group.
“Behavior is the issue, not the mask,” she said.
“It could be argued that the mask is an important symbolic part of a protester’s message. … There are many legitimate reasons people wear ‘masks,’ including political and religious reasons.”
VIDEO: 'Riot' Erupts in Portland, Ore. May Day Protest pic.twitter.com/IOr2g4qQId
— azcentral (@azcentral) May 2, 2017
But Outlaw said the masks are actually a matter of public safety.
“A lot of people are emboldened because they know they can’t be identified,’’ Outlaw said.
Obviously this all went down before cities started requiring masks to combat the spread of the current pandemic.
Opponents say these laws would deprive people anonymity to express their views and would violate their First Amendment rights.
“We looked into it previously and the constitutional free speech issues are difficult to overcome, at least in Oregon, said Tim Crail, chief of staff for Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz.
On Saturday night in Washington, the National Guard was activated by Governor Jay Inslee in Washington State due to complete civil unrest and chaos in downtown Seattle.
At the mayor’s request, Inslee authorized up to 200 guards members to respond. The Governor stated, however, the guards members would be unarmed.
As violence erupted across the state, social media warriors decided to attack officers after a child was impacted by pepper spray.
Perhaps the real question that should be asked is why people are bringing their kids to violent riots – but hey, what do we know?
A child was hit by pepper spray in Seattle. Hey dumbfucks, stop bringing your kids to riots. pic.twitter.com/zH8fQEWhPS
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) May 31, 2020
Antifa are said to be running rampant on the ground in Seattle this Saturday night.
Police vehicles are burning in the streets. One reported Antifa member stole a rifle out of a burning police car.
WATCH: ANTIFA militant steals police rifle from burned SUV before a cop steals it back.
Quite a scene in Seattle. pic.twitter.com/W3EmPo5XGw
— Big League Politics (@bigleaguepol) May 31, 2020
He was approached by a what appeared to be an officer at gunpoint and quickly surrendered the gun back to the officer.
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) May 31, 2020
The officer appears to be completely alone in the video and unable to even take the thief into custody.
It was reported in some places that the man who disarmed the Antifa member was actually a security guard. It’s unknown at this time exactly who he was affiliated with.
Another rifle is said to be outstanding from the several burning police vehicles.
The rain was unable to keep out Seattle Protesters Saturday, nor was a 5 pm curfew enacted by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.
Looting the Cheesecake Factory in downtown Seattle. pic.twitter.com/lzCqf0Kozm
— Mark Bski 🇺🇸🐶 (@MarkBski) May 31, 2020
The Mayor said:
“While most of those protests were peaceful, there have been isolated but significant events of violence and destruction.
Major chaos in Seattle right now, fires and fights in the street. The Nordstrom department store has been set ablaze. pic.twitter.com/CAl7kdiDEj
— Lara Reid (@LaraHReid) May 31, 2020
This temporary curfew is intended to preserve the health and safety of our residents by keeping our streets safe and accessible for essential workers and first responders and preventing the further spread of COVID-19.”
The city announced:
LIVE: Downtown Seattle right now pic.twitter.com/bhK5MbmShH
— #1 In Seattle Entertainment (@DubseaTV) May 31, 2020
“The curfew is intended to prevent violence and widespread property damage, and to prevent the further community spread of COVID-19 through continued gathering.
— Jennifer Franco (@jennfranconews) May 30, 2020
“The temporary curfew does not impact people who need to commute to work during these hours, people experiencing homelessness, people in a medical emergency or people in a dangerous situation, first responders, health care workers, and the news media.
— delacherry 🍒 (@jerrydelacherry) May 30, 2020
In addition, the curfew does not require businesses to close while it is in effect, and it will not alter public transit schedules.”
Police were forced to pepper spray rioters who got too close to their lines. Some police used their bikes to push back against the crowd.
Several officers were said to have been injured so far. Multiple arrests have been made but police don’t have an exact count at this point.
Washington State Patrol was forced to close both directions of I-5 through Seattle between I-90 and Highway 520 while protesters marched on the freeways.
Governor Inslee said:
“The National Guard is on stand by to assist the Seattle Police Department as requested by Mayor Durkan. They will be unarmed and assist with infrastructure protection and crowd movement. They will only be utilized if absolutely necessary and we appreciate their efforts to help in this important work.”
It’s unknown what the National Guard is supposed to do while they’re unarmed against the domestic terrorist rioters.
According to the City’s Proclamation of Civil Emergency the following damage was done during the riots so far:
- Multiple Seattle Police Department officers injured;
- Multiple community members injured;
- Several arrests made;
- Demonstrators throwing bottles at police officers;
- Demonstrators throwing lit fireworks into crowds;
- Demonstrators have set several SPD vehicles on fire;
- Demonstrators have thrown several Molotov cocktails at vehicles;
- Two AR-15 rifles have been stolen from SPD vehicles, one recovered and one outstanding; and
- Seattle Fire Department currently has limited, and occasionally completely restricted, access to buildings that are on fire.
Weapons in the area have been banned.
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