Letitia James Attorney General threatens to sue Donald Trump if he follows through on his threat to deploy the United States military to put down domestic protests.
New York State’s top prosecutor is threatening to sue President Trump if he follows through on his threat to deploy the United States military to put down domestic protests that were sparked by the police-involved killing of George Floyd.
‘The President of the United States is not a dictator, and President Trump does not and will not dominate New York state,’ Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement on Monday.
‘In fact, the president does not have the right to unilaterally deploy US military across American states.’
Trump on Monday vowed to order a military crackdown on protests gripping the United States, saying he was sending thousands of troops onto the streets of the capital and threatening to deploy soldiers to states unable to regain control.
He previously called on governors to ‘dominate the streets’ and crack down on protesters.
Coup d’état in Washington: Trump declares war on the Constitution
In an act unprecedented in American history, Donald Trump has repudiated the Constitution and is attempting to establish a presidential dictatorship!https://t.co/hKYuRM3q6q #Trump #MartialLaw #protests2020
— Socialist Equality Party (Britain) (@SEP_Britain) June 2, 2020
‘We will not hesitate to go to court to protect our constitutional rights.’
But AG James said: ‘We respect and will guard the right to peaceful protest, and my office will review any federal action with an eye toward protecting our state’s rights.
‘Rest assured: We will not hesitate to go to court to protect our constitutional rights during this time and well into the future.’
The dramatic escalation came a week after the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who had been pinned down with a knee to the neck by a police officer – leading to the worst civil unrest in decades in New York, Los Angeles and dozens of other American cities.
After being criticized for his silence on the worsening crisis, Trump struck a martial tone in a nationwide address from the White House as police fired tear gas on protesters outside.
‘I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults and the wanton destruction of property,’ he said.
He slammed the previous night’s unrest in Washington as a ‘total disgrace’ and called on governors to act quickly and forcefully to ‘dominate the streets.’
‘If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,’ he said, denouncing ‘acts of domestic terror.’
Channel 9 promoting this story as “Donald Trump declares war on protesters before walking out of the White House”. No, he’s demanding state governors use natl guard or military police to stop the riots, then walked to the church attacked by them. Repugnant lies! #USARIOTS #9News https://t.co/83rQMNKJme
— The Warrior Factor (@warriorfactor) June 2, 2020
Has Donald Trump declared war on America?
Following his address, protesters outside the White House were cleared with tear gas and rubber bullets so the president could walk across the street to the two-century old St Johns church, hit with graffiti and partially damaged by fire during unrest on Sunday.
‘We have a great country,’ Trump declared as he stood before the church’s boarded up windows, held up a Bible and posed for photographs.
The backlash was swift.
‘What the president did today was he called out the American military against American citizens,’ New York governor Andrew Cuomo posted on Twitter.
‘He used the military to push out a peaceful protest so he could have a photo op at a church. It’s all just a reality TV show for this president.’
Thousands of people have participated in the demonstrations against police brutality and racism across the country since Floyd’s killing.
A U.S. military helicopter used a “show of force” maneuver as protesters gathered in Washington, D.C. on Monday night. It’s a tactic often conducted by low-flying jets in combat zones to scare away insurgents. https://t.co/g9kocdpz8G https://t.co/yMvx6eVuWZ
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 2, 2020
The straw that broke the camel’s back.
Protests across the nation have since broken out in response as the US continues to weigh under the economic blight following the coronavirus and general unease of social and economic mobility following years of police brutality and devolving class and racial divides.
It was the most widespread unrest in the United States since 1968, when cities went up in flames over the slaying of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.
Many of the demonstrations have been peaceful and marked by cathartic moments such as officers hugging tearful protesters and marching or kneeling alongside them.
Others have seen rage-filled clashes between protesters and police. One person was shot dead in Louisville, Kentucky. Another Davenport, Iowa demonstrator lost her life due to a stray bullet- no arrests have been made in that case.
Floyd’s agonizing death was caught in bystander cell phone video which shows policeman Derek Chauvin pinning him down with his knee for nearly nine minutes as the 46-year-old pleaded for his life with the haunting words: ‘I can’t breathe!’
‘The evidence is consistent with mechanical asphyxia as the cause of death, and homicide as the manner of death,’ Aleccia Wilson, a University of Michigan expert who examined his body at the family’s request, told a news conference.
An initial finding cited in a criminal complaint pointed to pre-existing conditions, outraging the family.
A memorial for Floyd will take place on Thursday in Minneapolis before a service in North Carolina and a funeral on June 9 in Houston, where he grew up, family lawyer Ben Crump said.
Floyd, 46, had been accused of trying to buy cigarettes with a counterfeit bill.
The autopsy revived demands for the arrest of three other police officers who stood guard for Chauvin as Floyd lay dying.
Chauvin has been charged with third degree murder and is due to appear in court June 8.
More than 40 cities have imposed curfews, including New York, after consecutive nights of tension that included looting and the trashing of parked cars.
Trump spent most of the weekend inside the White House tweeting attacks on political rivals and the media.
In a conference call with governors Monday quickly leaked to media outlets, Trump told state leaders they were ‘going to look like a bunch of jerks’ if they were too soft.
Joe Biden, Trump’s likely Democratic opponent in November elections, met Monday with black leaders at a church in his home of Wilmington, Delaware and promised to form a police oversight commission in his first 100 days as president.