Trump Outlines Military Action In First Address About Protests as Demonstrators Tear Gassed Outside White House

On Monday evening, President Donald Trump laid out a strategy to take military action against looters and rioters involved in the five days of ongoing protests against police brutality sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. His comments follow the tear-gassing of D.C. protestors on Sunday evening, and while more tear gas was fired just hundreds of yards away while the president spoke.

Calling rioters "domestic terrorists," Trump has recommended to every governor to deploy the National Guard "in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets," saying he expects all cities and states to establish an "overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled" and promised to deploy the military if governors don't comply.

He also promised severe criminal penalties for organizers of protests including ANTIFA (anti-fascist protestors who sometimes battle against police) and other "instigators."

"My administration is fully committed that for George and his family justice will be served. He will not have died in vain," Trump said. "But we cannot allow the righteous cries and peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob. The biggest victims of the rioting are peace-loving citizens in our poorest communities and as their president, I will fight to keep them safe."

Trump comments follow several days of protests in the heart of the nation's capital including the tear-gassing of D.C. protestors on Sunday night. Protesters also sparked several fires across the city near the White House, including at St. John's church, a U.S. National Historic Landmark built in 1815.

On Sunday, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser requested 500 National Guard soldiers, while later on Sunday Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy ordered the rest of the Guardsman (around 1,200 soldiers) to be deployed, the Associated Press (AP) reports.

U.S. President Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to SpaceX employees after viewing the successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the manned Crew Dragon spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center on May 30, 2020 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Earlier in the day NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley lifted off an inaugural flight and will be the first people since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011 to be launched into space from the United States. Joe Raedle/Getty

Protests have occurred in over 30 U.S. cities and at least 25 have imposed curfews and/or activated their National Guard forces.

The White House was locked down on Friday at protestors clashed with police and Secret Service agents outside of the presidential residence. Trump himself was taken to a secret underground bunker Friday evening for his protection.

Trump's comments today mark the first time he has publicly made in-person comments about the protests. Early last Friday, Trump referred to protestors as "thugs" and made a statement seeming to endorse shooting looters associated with the protests.

However, by Friday evening, Trump said, "We have peaceful protesters and support the rights for peaceful protesters—we can't allow a situation like happened in Minneapolis to descend further into lawlessness, anarchy and chaos."

Earlier on Monday, Trump told governors of states with looting and rioting, "You have to arrest those people and you have to try them. If you don't dominate your city and your state, they are going to walk away with you."

Terrence Floyd, George Floyd's brother, urged protesters to stay calm and "channel your anger elsewhere" because his brother was "about peace."

Trump's remarks only took six minutes from the Rose Garden, and they ended just 10 minutes shy of 7 p.m., which is the curfew set for Washington, D.C. on Monday night.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.