GOP Senator Urges Trump to Deploy U.S. Military Against Violent Protests: 'No Quarter for Rioters and Looters'

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, a military veteran, proposed having several Army divisions reinforce law enforcement in cities attempting to control ongoing protests over the death of George Floyd last week in Minneapolis police custody.

The Republican senator lived up to his strict law and order reputation in social media posts Monday demanding "zero tolerance" for demonstrations that have caused destruction and brought violence in cities across the country. The Army veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts is commonly characterized as hawkish even among members of his own party.

On Monday, he called on President Donald Trump to use the Insurrection Act to help local police quell street protests.

"If necessary, the president should use the Insurrection Act to deploy active-duty military forces to these cities to support our local law enforcement and ensure this violence ends tonight," Cotton told Fox News, noting the "tool kit" at the disposal of the president and the Justice Department to fight violent protests.

Cotton reiterated he will not tolerate "one more night" of destructive protests in the wake of Floyd's death while being arrested by Minneapolis police on May 25. On Monday, Trump touted his own law and order image in response to the civil unrest, calling governors "weak" for failing to "dominate" the protesters.

"Anarchy, rioting and looting needs to end tonight," the GOP senator tweeted Monday morning. "If local law enforcement is overwhelmed and needs backup, let's see how tough these Antifa terrorists are when they're facing off with the 101st Airborne Division. We need to have zero tolerance for this destruction."

Responding to criticism over his remark about calling in the Army division, Cotton added: "And, if necessary, the 10th Mountain, 82nd Airborne, 1st Cav, 3rd Infantry—whatever it takes to restore order. No quarter for insurrectionists, anarchists, rioters, and looters."

The Insurrection Act, passed in 1807, gives the president the executive authority to deploy active military troops on U.S. soil. The law allows the president to bypass the legal barriers that typically require state governors to request such troops. The act was put in place during the 1992 rioting in Los Angeles over the beating of black motorist Rodney King. Congress expanded the law's powers in 2007 with the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act, although those changes were later repealed.

The Associated Press reported last week that the Pentagon was preparing active-duty troops for deployment in Minnesota in case the governor requested help to quell the protests. The Washington Post reported on Saturday that the Defense Department was not considering the use of the Insurrection Act.

Newsweek reached out to Cotton's office for additional remarks Monday afternoon but did not hear back before publication.

"What the president can do is say that justice will be done in accordance with law for George Floyd, and we will always respect the right of peaceful protests," Cotton told Fox News. "But the rioting, the anarchy and the looting ends tonight. If local law enforcement is overwhelmed...let's see how these anarchists respond when the 101st Airborne is on the other side of the street."

tom cotton republican insurrection act
GOP Senator Tom Cotton speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee nomination hearing on May. 5. Cotton, an Army veteran, has proposed having the military deployed in cities to curb George Floyd protests that have turned violent and destructive. Getty Images/ANDREW HARNIK/Pool