Trump warns cities, states to get ‘much tougher’ on anti-police protests

Security forces on May 30, 2020 block the entrance to Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC during a proest  against the death in police custody of George Floyd.
Security forces on May 30, 2020 block the entrance to Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC during a proest against the death in police custody of George Floyd. REUTERS - YURI GRIPAS

US President Donald Trump said on Saturday that states and cities must get "much tougher" on anti-police protests or the federal government will step in, including by using the military and making arrests.

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"Liberal Governors and Mayors must get MUCH tougher or the Federal Government will step in and do what has to be done, and that includes using the unlimited power of our Military and many arrests," Trump said in a tweet.

The warning followed several nights of unrest in some US cities as anger mounted over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes earlier this week in Minneapolis.

Peaceful protests were held across the country Saturday with demonstrators chanting, "I can't breathe," a reference to Floyd's last words recorded in video footage that went viral earlier this week.

  

Pentagon puts units on alert as ‘prudent planning measure’

The Pentagon said Saturday it was ready to provide military help to authorities scrambling to contain unrest in Minneapolis, but Minnesota Governor Tim Walz had not requested federal troops.

Jonathan Rath Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman, said several military units had been placed on higher alert “as a prudent planning measure” in case Walz asked for help. Hoffman did not identify the units, but other officials said they are mainly military police.

Hoffman said these were units normally on 48-hour recall to support state authorities in the event of crises like natural disasters. 

Defence officials said there was no intent by the Pentagon to deploy any federal forces to Minnesota unless Walz asked for help. If he did make such a request, federal units such as military police could provide logistical and other kinds of support to the Minnesota National Guard or state law enforcement, but would not get directly involved in law enforcement under current plans, the officials said.

Riots ‘no longer’ about Floyd’s murder

In Minnesota, Walz fully mobilised the state’s National Guard and promised a massive show of force to help quell unrest that has grown increasingly destructive.

“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.”

Meanwhile one person was killed in downtown Detroit late Friday, a Detroit police spokeswoman said Saturday.

The shooting occurred near Detroit's Greektown entertainment district as officers were confronted with dozens of protesters, said Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood, a police spokeswoman. She said an officer wasn't involved in the shooting.

A police report released Saturday said the shooting victim, a 21-year-old man, was sitting in the driver's seat of a silver Dodge Caliber in a parking lot with two other male occupants when an unknown person fired shots into the vehicle and then fled on foot.

Of the 60 people who were arrested in Detroit's overnight protest, 37 don't live in the city, police Chief James Craig said Saturday. Although Detroit is about 80 percent black, many of those arrested were white.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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