President Trump said Friday that it was “like a piece of cake” to suppress violence at anti-police brutality protests in Washington and urged governors who are “too proud” to send in the National Guard.
“The Secret Service was incredible, but we were also helped by the DC police and we were helped by the National Guard, was unbelievable. They came in and they…this was like a piece of cake,” Trump said in the Rose Garden.
“I’m suggesting to some of these governors that are too proud — in New York, I mean you see what’s going on there. Don’t be proud, get the job done. You’ll end up looking much better in the end. Call in the National Guard. Call me. We’ll have so many people,” Trump said.
Protests against the killing of George Floyd by Minnesota police gave way to violence and property damage outside the White House over the weekend. The DC National Guard was activated Saturday to support the Secret Service and US Park Police.
On Saturday and Sunday, officers were pelted with bottles and bricks in Lafayette Park before arson, widespread window-smashing and looting across downtown Washington. There were few incidents in recent days amid a massive buildup of federal forces along with National Guard members from other states in downtown DC.
“You have to dominate the streets, you can’t let what’s happening happen,” Trump said. “It’s called dominate the streets. You can’t let that happen in New York where they’re breaking into stores and all of the things. And by the way, hurting many small businesses — you can’t let it happen.”
Trump also declared that “nobody’s ever done for the black community what President Trump has done,” noting his signed criminal justice reform legislation and permanent funding for historically black colleges, and presiding over historically low African-American unemployment.
The economic rebound after coronavirus-related business closures was good for equality, Trump said.
At one point, Trump seemed to say a drop in jobless numbers made Friday a “great day” for Floyd.
“Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this a great thing that’s happening for our country. There’s a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody. It’s a great day for everybody. It is a great, great day, in terms of equality,” Trump said.
White House spokesman Ben Williamson said Friday afternoon that Trump was “talking about the fight for equal justice and equal treatment under the law” when he mentioned Floyd’s possible thoughts in heaven.
The Trump administration requested thousands of out-of-state National Guard members to help secure downtown DC, in addition to officers from federal agencies including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Trump has threatened to send active-duty troops into cities with uncontrolled looting using the Insurrection Act of 1807, but he hasn’t actually done so, instead urging use of the National Guard.
Minneapolis, the epicenter of national protests, showed that National Guard troops could restore order, Trump said.
“In Minnesota, they were ripping that place apart. I love it, we had such success there,” Trump said. “I called the governor and the National Guard went in and in one night it was over. You do not see the problem in Minnesota at all now, not even a little bit. Take a look at that great city. A great city, Minneapolis, and it was — it was under siege like nobody has ever seen, with people running from the police department, the great police. They were told to run. They did not want to run. It was bad governing. I’m not blaming the governor, I am blaming the mayor.”