The White House will establish a “central command center” to oversee the federal response to riots that have flared nationwide alongside peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced on June 1.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Attorney General William Barr, and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be involved, McEnany told reporters on June 1, without elaborating.
“There will be additional federal assets deployed across the nation,” McEnany said. “There will be a central command center in conjunction with the state and local governments. That will include General Milley, Secretary Esper, and AG Barr.
“But I won’t go any further in announcing what actions,” she added.
The announcement came as President Donald Trump said he’s deploying military personnel along with other federal assets to stop violent riots in Washington.
“As we speak, I am dispatching thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalizing, assaults, and wanton destruction of property,” Trump announced during a press conference on June 1.
Trump called the violence in the nation’s capital on May 31 a “disgrace.”
“We must never give in to anger or hatred. If malice or violence reigns, then none of us is free,” he said.
The president also said that he strongly recommended that governors deploy the National Guard in their states.
“Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled,” he said. “If a city or a 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.”
Lawmakers have publicly condemned the widespread rioting, violence, and looting that has marred the otherwise peaceful protests over the death of the 46-year-old Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.
According to a tally compiled by The Associated Press, at least 4,400 people have been arrested across the United States and several people have died in days of protests.
Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, was charged on May 29 with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. Chauvin and three other officers involved in Floyd’s arrest were fired.
A widely circulated video showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck while Floyd told officers, “I can’t breathe,” before he eventually became unresponsive. According to a Minneapolis Fire Department report (pdf), Floyd was unresponsive and “pulseless” when being transported in an ambulance by paramedics to the hospital.
According to Floyd’s family, the results of an independent autopsy they commissioned said that “sustained pressure on the right side of Floyd’s carotid artery impeded blood flow to the brain, and weight on his back impeded his ability to breathe.”
The criminal complaint against Chauvin cited a preliminary autopsy report showing that there were “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”
Allen Zhong contributed to this report.