This 213-year-old federal regulation authorizes the deployment of military troops in cases of civil unrest. “It’s one of the tools available,” replied White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
Donald Trump would be considering invoking the Insurrection Law, which would allow him to deploy troops in different cities of the country to contain the protests that have been unleashed in dozens of cities for days over the death of African-American George Floyd. The information was published on Monday by NBC News, which quotes four people familiar with the matter.
Although the Government has not spoken so far on this issue, on Monday the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, during a briefing with the press, left open the possibility of invoking the law.
“The Insurrection Law is one of the tools available, if the president decides to continue with that, it is his prerogative,” said McEnany.
Tom Cotton, Republican senator from Arkansas, urged the president to invoke the law “if necessary” so that troops can “support our local security forces and ensure that this violence ends.” “What the president can do is say that justice will be done according to the law for George Floyd and we will always respect the right to peaceful protests. But the riots, anarchy and looting end tonight. If the local police are overwhelmed, let’s see how these anarchists respond when the 101st Airborne Division is across the street, “he added.
Along these lines, some of Trump’s assistants have encouraged him in recent days to invoke that federal law, which is 213 years old, to contain the protests and riots.
In cases of civil unrest, such as those occurring in the last days after Floyd’s death, US governors may request the Government to send troops on active duty to collaborate with the security forces. However, so far no governor has made that request.
According to NBC , governors often prefer National Guard forces in these cases because they can legally carry out police functions, while active-duty troops cannot, according to an 1878 law that prohibits the government from using military forces to act as a police force within the country’s borders. In fact, thousands of members of the National Guard were deployed in various cities in the country to stop the riots.
But the president could indeed invoke the Insurrection Law for the deployment of troops, without the request of a governor. In that case, those troops would be allowed to carry out law enforcement missions.
To invoke the law, the US president would first have to issue a proclamation to “immediately order the insurgents to disperse and peacefully withdraw to their abodes within a limited time”, as stipulated by federal law.
If that option were realized, it would be the first one that the law has been invoked since 1992, when it was applied during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. At the time, the measure was requested by the then Governor of California, Pete Wilson.
These versions of the possible invocation of the Insurrection Law comes amid Trump’s criticism of state governors for their response to the riots of recent days.
In a conference call, the audio of which was quickly leaked and broadcast by various local media, Trump told regional leaders that the protesters were “terrorists” and should “dominate them.” If they did not take a “tough” approach that involves “sending them to prison for long periods of time,” they would see themselves as “idiots” in the eyes of the public, he said.
Specifically, he focused on Minnesota, the city where Floyd died at the hands of policeman Derek Chauvin after he knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes, ensuring that the city had become a “laughingstock throughout the world” .
More than 4,400 people have been arrested as part of the protests since they started last week.