Is Trump responding correctly to the riots happening across the nation?


Fact Box

  • Protests erupted for a sixth day across the US over the death of George Floyd. At least 40 cities imposed curfews but most were broken, and National Guard members have been activated in at least 23 states and Washington, DC [1].
  • Six Atlanta police officers have been charged over excessive use of force during a protest arrest incident involving two college students [2].
  • Over the weekend, Trump tweeted: 'these THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won't let that happen…. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!' [3].
  • Recently President Donald Trump said, 'I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property” [4].
  • Some of the most destructive riots in the U.S. include: New York City (1863), Seattle (1999), New York City (1977), Cincinnati (2001), Detroit (1967), Chicago (1968), Watts (1965), Oklahoma State Penitentiary (1973), Newark (1967), Los Angeles (1992), and others [5].

Noah (Yes)

President Trump has reacted correctly and wisely to quell the riots that have erupted across America. His strong actions--not just words--will make the difference in ending the lawlessness and violence now affecting American cities [1].

Firstly, the President has ordered and made available the total power and deep resources of the U.S. military to the Governors and Mayors in every state [2].

Further, President Trump will authorize signing the Insurrection Act, if necessary, which will provide him with the unilateral ability to send in troops to any state if a Governor or Mayor fails to quell the riots in their own cities [3].

In daily conference calls, the President has been challenging Governors and Mayors of large metropolitan areas to get tough on criminal elements, arsonists, and looters. He is using the power of his 'bully pulpit' to force weak political leaders into now making bold, courageous, and necessary decisions that will target apprehensions and arrests [4].

Instead of making grandiose speeches, President Trump is taking an aggressive 'The Buck Stops Here' attitude concerning the violence, arson, and looting. He feels strongly that that is what's now required to return calmness, order, and safety to our cities--three critical elements that the nation's citizens are demanding [5].

One of the most crucial responsibilities of a sitting President is to ensure that our civil and criminal laws are executed faithfully to protect the nation and its people from anarchy, lawlessness, and violence [6].

The President is doing just that.

Rida (No)

In times when America needs moral leadership, President Trump has decided to respond to nationwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality by ironically asking for more brutality [1]. His response is starkly different from past presidents who have chosen to either stay silent or pacify racial tensions amidst police brutality by issuing public addresses [2].

One of Trump's first tweets on the matter quoted a 1960s racist police chief, 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts' and showed his complete disregard for the history of racism in America [3].

Further, President Trump offered to send in federal military forces to calm the riots [4]. There should be no confusion about how inappropriate it is when the commanding officer of the world's largest military threatens action against civilian protesters.

Trump's encouragement of violence has emboldened police violence [5], and his lack of initiative to address the nation or speak to Black Lives Matter activists should be criticized. When his advisors discussed an oval office address, it was brushed off because of the 'lack of policy proposals and the president's own seeming disinterest in delivering a message of unity [6].'

President Trump summarized his stance on his recent call with U.S governors saying, 'You have to dominate, and you have to arrest people, and you have to try people, and they have to go to jail for long periods of time [7].' If these words reflect the morality of America in the face of protests against systemic racism, we need to take a long hard look at ourselves.

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