Trump, Barr point to strong governors as example
After a week that saw at least nine people killed, along with millions, if not billions, of dollars in damages and property losses, President Trump called on U.S. governors to use their authority to stop the violence stemming from the George Floyd protests, or he would do it for them.
In a phone call with the states’ top executives, Trump told governors that thus far, they had acted weakly in the face of violence.
“I saw what happened in Dallas where they kicked a guy to death,” said the president of a widely-viewed video of a man being beaten in Dallas. “I don’t know if he died or not, but if he didn’t, it’s a miracle. What they did to him, they were kicking him like I’d never seen anything like it in my life.”
The man is in stable condition at a hospital, but it’s unclear what his prognosis is.
Witnesses said that the man came to the protest with a machete, which tends to lend credence to the idea that the police, National Guard or the U.S. Army need to clear the streets in the affected cities. Thus far, mainstream media has treated the incident as if the man just got what he deserved.
Trump’s stalwart attorney general buttressed Trump’s main point. The only way to stop violence is to get people off the streets.
“You have opportunistic people like looters,” added attorney general Bill Barr. “But in many places, if not most places, you have this ingredient of extremist anarchist types, agitators, who are driving the violence. Law enforcement response is not going to work unless we dominate the streets as the president said.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) said that his state was very aggressive in providing the Atlanta police department help, which resulted in fewer clashes with protestors.
“We had the mindset to take strong actions against the disruptors,” said Kemp, referring to elements looking for violence and looting. “We had 500 guard called up and ready.”
Other governors snapped back at Trump, accusing the president of inflaming the situation.
“We’ve called out our National Guard and our state police, but the rhetoric that’s coming out of the White House is making it worse,” Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (D) told Trump.
Trump quipped back: “OK, well thank you very much, J.B. I don’t like your rhetoric very much either because I watched it with respect to the coronavirus and I don’t like your rhetoric much either. I think you could have done a much better job, frankly.”
A frequent target of Trump criticism, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) was more scathing in a statement after the call: “The president repeatedly and viciously attacked governors, who are doing everything they can to keep the peace while fighting a once-in-a-generation global pandemic,” read the statement.
Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland offered a history lesson. In 2015 Baltimore suffered from riots in the wake of another black man who died while being arrested, Freddie Gray.
“We had 137 police and firefighters injured in the first few hours of that disturbance in 2015,” said Hogan, “and we sent in the Guard and all those police officers, and not a single person was hurt for the rest of the week. No more violence.”
Trump concluded the call saying that other people are just as dead as George Floyd.
“We honor, as you know, Mr. Floyd,” said the president, “but we honor many other people that have been badly hurt and killed. And the way we’re going to do it and the way we’re going to solve the problem is to be fair and be strong.”
PHOTO: Patrick Semansky/AP
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