- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Active-duty U.S. troops were standing by outside of the nation’s capital Tuesday and curfews were moved up by three hours in New York as local leaders braced for another night of rioting more than a week after a white Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd.

Though the officer who kneeled on Mr. Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes has been charged with murder, activists have demanded that the three other officers who were present and didn’t intervene also face charges.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said other charges could come “very soon” but wouldn’t give a hard deadline. State officials also said they were launching an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.

Minneapolis had not seen widespread rioters the previous few nights, but protests demanding justice had turned increasingly violent at night elsewhere, with at least five officers being shot across the country as chaos erupted in other major cities.

Four police officers were shot in St. Louis, Missouri, shortly after midnight Tuesday, though none reportedly suffered life-threatening injuries. A Nevada officer, though, was put on life support after being gunned down along the Las Vegas strip when riots turned violent.

“It’s an extraordinarily difficult time for officers — for their physical safety and the conditions under which they’re being forced to work,” said Bill Johnson, executive director and general counsel for the National Association of Police Organizations. “The attacks are quite literally becoming murderous.”

The police shootings came as rioters also defaced memorials in the nation’s capital. There was also a fire at the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House over the weekend.

President Trump has threatened to use the military to halt the riots, and Pentagon officials said they were at the ready.

The military’s response to the demonstrations thus far had centered on National Guard troops.

At least 1,300 National Guard personnel were on duty in Washington, with additional forces from Utah and New Jersey also activated. Reinforcements from Indiana, South Carolina and Tennessee were expected to arrive Tuesday, officials said.

But New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would refuse to use the National Guard or armed forces to combat the rioting, which resulted in a number of areas of the city being looted Monday and vehicles attempting to run down police officers.

The New York Democrat pushed back against allegations his city was out of control.

“We do not need nor do we think it’s wise for the National Guard to be in New York City,” the mayor told reporters. “When outside armed forces go into communities, no good comes of it.”

Instead, he said people should take back their own communities, calling for clergy and civil servants to stand up against looting. The mayor put into place an 8 p.m. curfew for Tuesday, hoping the new curfew would also be a useful tool. His previous curfew was 11 p.m.

Washington, D.C., originally had an 11 p.m. curfew but Mayor Muriel Bowser changed it to 7 p.m. for Monday and Tuesday. The change resulted in fewer injuries to officers, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

Mr. Trump, though, has called for the National Guard to intervene.

“NYC, CALL UP THE NATIONAL GUARD,” the president tweeted as Mr. de Blasio was speaking on Tuesday. “The lowlifes and losers are ripping you apart. Act fast!”

The Insurrection Act of 1807 allows the president to deploy active-duty forces to states if requested by a governor. National Guard forces operate under different regulations and are routinely employed to aid in natural disaster response or civil unrest.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith said he was skeptical that Mr. Trump understood the implications of deploying U.S. military troops as a part of a domestic law enforcement response.

“I remain gravely concerned about President Trump’s seemingly autocratic rule and how it affects the judgement of our military leadership,” said Mr. Smith, Washington Democrat, who said he wants to hear testimony on the matter from Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Several state leaders also questioned the president’s call and legal authority to deploy troops.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, rejected the president’s threat.

“The fact is, what he called for yesterday is illegal,” Mr. Pritzker said on NBC. “States can only call in the federal troops if they ask for it. Our state is not asking for it. I don’t know any governor that would or will. We are dealing with it.”

Mr. de Blasio’s pushback against armed forces came after at least one member of his own party called for more help.

Rep. Max Rose, New York Democrat, said the mayhem in New York City showed that the mayor has lost control of the situation “once and for all” and called for the National Guard to be deployed.

Mr. Rose said the “unprecedented looting and attacks on officers and bystanders” was not the work of peaceful protesters.

“[Monday] night demonstrated that the Mayor has lost control of the situation once and for all,” Mr. Rose, who represents Staten Island and Brooklyn, said in a statement.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo echoed the criticism.

“The NYPD and the mayor did not do their job last night,” said Mr. Cuomo, continuing his not-exactly-friendly rivalry with Mr. de Blasio.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who currently serves as Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, also attacked Mr. de Blasio, saying the major is preventing police from intervening in the riots.

“We have watched now over and over again people looting, throwing Molotov cocktails, burning cars, … and virtually no major arrests are made,” he told Fox Business on Tuesday. “The mayor should step down. He is incompetent.”

Mr. Trump, who’s also called for more troop in the nation’s capital, was rebuffed by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

The Democrat told reporters in Richmond on Tuesday he turned down a request from the Pentagon for Virginia to send between 3,000 and 5,000 members of its National Guard to Washington.

“I am not going to send our men and women in uniform of a very proud National Guard to Washington for a photo op,” he said.

Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, were weighing various legislative responses, including a bill from House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries that would bar officers from applying pressure or force in a way that hinders breathing.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, said on Tuesday Congress should put Mr. Jeffries’ bill on Mr. Trump’s desk immediately. Mr. Jeffries and others called on cooler heads to prevail amid the overnight protests and looting.

“Those who are pimping the movement for their own self-enrichment — we are telling you to stand down. You’re not welcome, and you’re undermining the cause of justice,” said Mr. Jeffries, New York Democrat.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer also proposed a resolution Tuesday defending the public’s right to assemble by condemning Mr. Trump for allowing authorities to clear protestors with “the use of gas and rubber bullets.”

The resolution also condemns the violence and looting that has erupted across the country, arguing the acts are “unlawful, unacceptable and contrary to the purpose of peaceful protests.”

Mr. Schumer and other Democrats have harshly criticized Mr. Trump after gas and flash-bang devices were used to disperse protesters congregating near the White House on Monday ahead of Mr. Trump’s Rose Garden speech.

After the address, Mr. Trump made a dramatic walk over to St. John’s, held up a Bible outside the church, and returned to the White House.

• Gabriella Muñoz contributed to this report.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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