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Iran Press TV

Pentagon chief breaks with Trump on using military to crush protests

Iran Press TV

Wednesday, 03 June 2020 4:37 PM

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has broken with President Donald Trump on using the country's military forces to crush protests, seeking justice for George Floyd, an African American killed by a white police officer recently.

The Pentagon chief said Wednesday that he would not invoke the Insurrection Act, which would allow Trump to use the National Guard against protesters.

"I say this not only as secretary of Defense, but also as a former soldier and a former member of the National Guard, the option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations," Esper said. "We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act."

Twenty-eight US states, as well as the District of Columbia, have activated their National Guards to help with crowd control.

"I've always believed and continue to believe that the National Guard is best suited for performing domestic support to civil authorities in these situations in support of local law enforcement," Esper said at a news conference Wednesday.

Chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement Tuesday night that some forces "postured on military bases in the National Capital Region but are not in Washington DC," rocked by protests against police brutality and killing of black people.

The combined 1,600 troops "are on heightened alert status but remain under Title X authority and are not participating in defense support to civil authority operations," he added.

Floyd was killed when a white police officer knelt on his neck, and video images of his killing have sparked demonstrations in hundreds of US cities against police brutality and racism.

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