President Donald Trump announced the deployment of the military to help quell the violent riots in Washington, D.C., and said he would send federal troops to states to restore order if governors didn’t act. 

“What happened in this city last night was a total disgrace,” Trump announced Monday evening in the Rose Garden, referring to the weekend riots in the nation’s capital. “As we speak, 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.”

The president also spoke about the need for justice after the police killing of George Floyd, 46, during his arrest in Minneapolis on Memorial Day evening.

In response to Floyd’s death, peaceful protests in Minneapolis turned to violent riots, which spread across the United States, even as peaceful protests also continued.

“All Americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd,” said Trump, who spoke last week with Floyd’s family members. “My administration is committed that for George Floyd and his family, justice will be served. He will not have died in vain.”      

However, he emphasized that violent riots did not honor Floyd’s memory. 

“We cannot allow the righteous cries of peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob,” Trump said. 

Last week, Trump said the Justice Department initiated a federal investigation into the death of Floyd, who died after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes.  Chauvin, fired Tuesday, was charged Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter. 

Shortly after the remarks in the Rose Garden, Trump walked to St. John’s Episcopal Church, a historic church near the White House that was partially burned during riots over the weekend.  

“We are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country. We will end it now,” Trump said before departing the White House for the church. “I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets.”

He later added: “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.”

Using the military for domestic order is rare. But a president can use the power under the Insurrection Act of 1807 to send federal troops to respond to domestic emergencies even against the wishes of a state’s government.  

“The biggest victims of the rioting are peace-loving citizens in our poorest communities,” Trump said. “As your president, I will fight to keep them safe. I will fight to protect you. I’m your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters.”

He continued:

But, in recent days, our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa, and others. …

Innocent people have been left savagely beaten, like the young man in Dallas, Texas, who was left dying on the street, or the woman in upstate New York, viciously attacked by dangerous thugs. Small business owners have seen their dreams utterly destroyed. New York’s finest have been hit in the face with bricks. Brave nurses who have battled the [coronavirus] are afraid to leave their homes. 

A police precinct has been overrun. Here in the nation’s capital, the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial have been vandalized. One of our most historic churches was set ablaze. A federal officer in California—an African American enforcement hero—was shot and killed. These are not acts of peaceful protests. These are acts of domestic terror. 

Trump stressed that rioters would face consequences. 

“I want the organizers of this terror to be on notice that you will face severe criminal penalties and lengthy sentences in jail,” Trump said. “This includes Antifa and others who are leading instigators of this violence.”