Pentagon chief Mark Esper distanced himself from U.S. President Donald Trump and said he disagrees with using the military to stem the massive wave of protest against racism and police brutality.
Amid protests over the death of George Floyd, who was suffocated by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Trump on Monday threatened to deploy the military to “quickly fix the situation,” sparking a wave of criticism.
This Wednesday, the head of the Pentagon marked a distance stating that he is against the use of active military forces to stem the wave of protests.
“I do not support the use of the Insurrection Law,” said Esper, who thinks that active troops “should only be used as a last resort and only in the most urgent and serious situations.”
“I have always believed and continue to believe that the National Guard is better suited to provide internal support to civil authorities in these situations,” the defense secretary said at a press conference, referring to the contingent of reservists.
Esper also spoke about the controversy after Trump on Monday suppressed a peaceful demonstration in front of the White House to clear the area and pose with a bible in front of a church that was damaged on the sidelines of a demonstration over the weekend.
The Pentagon chief admitted that it was a mistake to pose alongside Trump.
“I do my best to remain apolitical and to avoid situations that may seem political,” he said. “Sometimes I make it and sometimes I don’t.”
Arrests for protests
Almost ten days after George Floyd’s death, mobilizations continued in big cities such as Washington, New York, Houston and Los Angeles, among others, despite the curfew decreed after the weekend riots.
Trump, who is seeking reelection in November, kept his speech on Wednesday and despite criticism, repeated on Twitter his message of “Law and order!”.
Street mobilizations reached a dimension not seen since the 1960s during civil rights protests, despite the fact that the United States is the country with the most deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 106,000 deaths and the outbreak continues. active.
In Washington, protesters defied the curfew but there were no riots, and in New York – where authorities extended nighttime traffic restrictions until June 7 – the situation was calmer than on Tuesday, when looting occurred. on Fifth Avenue.
Hundreds of people defied the curfew by shouting “Without justice, no peace” and chanting the name of George Floyd.
“Our ancestors fought for years to stop things like this and this continues to happen and we are tired. It is frustrating that a police officer can kill, murder a man in front of a camera, in front of the entire world,” Joy McClean, an ., told .. Employee of an NGO living in the Bronx, New York.
In total, the police recorded nearly 9,000 arrests across the country, according to an estimate by the US media, citing curfew violations, some acts of violence and disorder.
In Minneapolis, the epicenter of the protests, the situation gradually returns to calm after the riots over the weekend.
Singer AJ Channer of the group Fire from the Gods explained his discomfort to ..
“My war is not against the police, my war is against the system that allows it,” he said. “We never talk about institutionalized racism that is systemic, we never talk about inequalities.”
The police officer who detained George Floyd and restrained him by pressing his knee against his neck for nine minutes was charged with involuntary manslaughter. Three other officers who were present were dismissed but no charges were filed against them.