Challenge to Trump’s threat to deploy troops against protests

President Donald Trump has urged the greater use of force to combat the ongoing protests in the United States, and on Monday suggested deploying US troops on the streets, but the US defence secretary has come out in opposition to using troops.

CNN:  Can Trump legally deploy US troops to US cities?

President Donald Trump threatened Monday night to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 law and take the unusual step of deploying active duty US soldiers to police US streets.

While Trump claims the move would break up anti-fascists, or Antifa, who he says are organizing violent riots that have led to looting, it would also effectively squelch peaceful protests for racial justice after the death last week of a black man, George Floyd, after a police officer used lethal force during a stop.

That would be a remarkable turn on the law, which was most notably used in the 1950s to enforce desegregation. And later, in the 1960s, to address riots in Detroit.

According to the Congressional Research Service, it hasn’t been invoked since 1992 during the riots in Los Angeles that followed the acquittal of four white police officers in the beating of Rodney King. Now-Attorney General William Barr was actually attorney general back then, too, under former President George H.W. Bush.

Financial Times:  Pentagon chief breaks with Trump over using troops for protests

The US defence secretary opened a rift with Donald Trump, saying he did not agree with the president about sending the army on to the streets to clamp down on protests that have erupted across the country since the death of George Floyd.

“I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act,” Mark Esper said on Wednesday, in a reference to the 1807 law, which allows a president to overrule governors and deploy active-duty soldiers in their states.

Speaking at a press conference, Mr Esper, a West Point graduate and former soldier, said the National Guard was “best suited” to help local law enforcement tackle protests.

“The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations,” he said. “We are not in one of those situations.”

Mr Esper and General Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs, have come under intense fire since Monday when they accompanied Mr Trump to a church near the White House where Mr Trump held a photo opportunity with a Bible. Law enforcement officers used pepper spray on peaceful protesters to clear a path for the president.

This could signal a change of mind by Trump on the use of troops, but if not then Esper’s job must be at risk. Trump has a habit of not tolerating people who disagree with him or hold him to account.

Meanwhile the police officer who sparked the latest uprising of anger and frustration and police brutality, especially against blacks, has had now has charges upped to 2nd degree murder, and officers who did nothing while he killed George Floyd have also been charged.

Reuters: Minnesota raises charge against Chauvin in Floyd case, charges three others

Minnesota’s attorney general will increase the murder charge against a fired Minneapolis police officer in the death of an unarmed black man that has triggered nationwide protests and will level charges against three other sacked officers, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar said on Wednesday.

George Floyd, 46, died after Derek Chauvin, a white policeman, knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25, reigniting the explosive issue of police brutality against African Americans five months before a presidential election.

Klobuchar, who is from Minnesota and a potential running mate for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 election, said Attorney General Keith Ellison would increase to second-degree murder the charge against Chauvin, 44.

It’s a pity that a politician made the announcement, that won’t help the partisan divide over this.

Chauvin had been charged last week with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The new charge can carry a sentence of up to 40 years, 15 years longer than the maximum sentence for third-degree murder.

In a tweet, Klobuchar said the three other former officers who were involved in the incident will be charged also. “This is another important step for justice,” she said.

The Minnesota-based Star Tribune, citing sources, said the other officers – Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – would face charges of aiding and abetting murder.

It has taken over a week for this. Investigations and justice can take time, but time taken over the officers being charged has contributed significantly to the ongoing unrest in the US.