In a recent press briefing, President Donald Trump hinted on making use of military force to end all violence escalated by George Floyd’s death under Minneapolis police custody. According to the President, if the state governors are unable to control the situation in their jurisdictions, he would have to install all means to settle the upheaval which includes using military forces.
Just in case you are wondering ‘What happened to George Floyd?’, here is a little summary to highlight the context of this discussion.
Summary of May 25th Events
On 25th May 2020, George Floyd, an African-American man, was murdered by officers of the Minneapolis Police Department. George Floyd, who was 46 years old, was initially arrested against charges of using a counterfeit $20 bill.
Later on, the seemingly peaceful arrest turned into the intentional killing of the poor man by Officer Derek Michael Chauvin. Chauvin was accompanied by 3 of his fellow officers, namely Thomas K. Lane, Alexander Keung, and Tou Thao. While Thomas K. Lane and Alexander Kueng were relatively new to the police department, Chauvin and Thao were senior police officers with a history of mistreatment of people of color.
According to the videos retrieved from the crime scene and people interviewed, George Floyd had purchased a pack of cigarettes from Cup Foods and paid the $20 bill. However, when the $20 bill turned out to be counterfeit, the employees of Cup Foods initially demanded George to pay the amount and later called the cops.
After Thomas K. Lane and Alexander Keung arrived at the spot, they ordered Floyd to step out of his car to which he complied. The officers handcuffed him and called in for more assistance. Following the request, two more police vehicles arrived at the scene. One of them guarded Floyd’s vehicle and the other brought Chauvin and Thao.
The events which followed led up to the final moments before Floyd’s death, where two of the officers, Lane and Kueng, were seen applying pressure on Floyd’s body to keep him down. They pinned his legs and torso to the ground. In the meanwhile, Chauvin applied pressure with his knee on Floyd’s neck. The witnesses, who also recorded videos of the event, reported that Floyd was short of breath and kept requesting the officers to let him breathe until he died.
The videos show that none of the accompanying officers tried to stop Chauvin from treating George in an inhumane manner. On the contrary, they told the bystanders who tried to intervene to stay away. In addition to all of the events mentioned above, witnesses reported that the officers did not abandon their conduct even after an attempted intervention from ‘Cup Foods’ people. According to the videos revealed, Chauvin did not move an inch away from his position. Not even after the EMT arrived and explicitly asked him to lift his knee from Floyd’s neck.
The Aftermath of Floyd’s Death
After George Floyd was proclaimed dead, protests broke out in all parts of America and took a violent turn later in the night. Many believe that the protestors must have redirected their anger by committing violent acts such as vandalizing police cars. However, there are others who believe that police must have incited violence by deploying its people in plain clothes to make the protestors look bad.
No matter who initiated violence, the riots between protestors and policemen resulted in approximately 270 properties being completely destroyed across Minneapolis – St. Paul area. Following the protests in these areas, other parts of the United States also responded to the unjust and inhumane homicide of George Floyd. People from all communities and walks of life came out in support of the suppressed Black community and demanded justice for Floyd.
Virtual protests are still being held by millions of people including celebrities, political figures, the business community, etc. The international community also reacted to Floyd’s murder with Canada and Iran issuing proper statements over the victim’s death. Foreign media is exclusively covering Floyd’s death and people are actively condemning it.
Trump’s Initial Reaction and the Threat to Use Military
Initially, President Trump reacted to Floyd’s death in a solemn way and tweeted his condolences for his family. The President stated that he had asked the FBI to help with investigating the event and ended his statement by saying ‘justice will be served’.
After the protests turned into violent clashes between protestors and the police, several incidents of properties being destroyed and looting were reported, this is when the President lost his cool and expressed his fury over the inability of mayors of affected cities to control the riots.
The President stated that though he deems George Floyd’s death as wrong, he does not approve of the violent acts such as vandalizing and looting personal properties as the right way to protest. He further termed these riots as ‘acts of domestic terror’ and clearly expressed his intentions of deploying military forces across America.
Reception of Trump’s Statement
President Trump’s statement is being perceived more as a threat to silence the suffering communities and less as a call for restoring peace. Interestingly, right after these statements were issued, protestors outside the White House were dispersed by military men dressed in National Guard uniforms.
The protestors were pushed back using violent means such as tear gas, baton beatings, and shields. These steps were taken to facilitate the President’s visit to a church where he posed with a Bible in his hand.
Since his statement has come out, people are calling Trump out for his insensitive response to the situation. Some are even saying that Trump is trying to shush the Black Lives Matter movement which has gained momentum in the past week.
In response to the President’s statements about ‘The right way to protest’, people have been sharing memes and images across the internet asking ‘What is the right way to protest then?’ Some images even say that there is no right way to protest. In fact, people of color should not have to protest in the first place. Their lives must be considered safe in the United States of America which has been always called the land of dreams.
This is not the first time President Trump has made controversial remarks about a grave concern. However, the far-reaching implications of his careless attitude under current circumstances can cost him the Presidency.
The Potential Aftermath
What if President Trump decides to follow through what he said and does deploy military forces to control the unrest? This leaves a big question mark on the face of the American Judiciary as well as humanity.
According to law experts, for Trump to fully enforce military deployment without taking into account the states’ will, he will have to violate human rights laws. This will lead to further clashes between the people and military of the United States and create clear divisions among the nationals.
There will be clear divides based on opinions about racism, sexism, economic policies, and the suppression of people of color. Add to all of this, the future economic uncertainty due to the COVID 19 economic policies, the tolerance levels of American people will literally explode.
President Trump needs to understand that this situation can only be dealt with peace and empathy. Any threats or acts against human rights will further fuel the riots.
The United States of America is facing one of the most challenging times currently. It is fighting against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, burying thousands of Americans daily who are dying at the hands of it, and facing an economic crisis. To make these challenging times even more disturbing, Chauvin and his white supremacist allies’ racist treatment of George Floyd has surfaced which caused his death.
Amidst all this, President Trump’s careless statements about handling protests and his intentions to use military force against protestors across America will lead the country towards further unrest. Moreover, it will also cost him the next elections.