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Uprising or re-election: Will Donald Trump take the risk of mobilizing the military?

Uprising or re-election: Will Donald Trump take the risk of mobilizing the military?

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday threatened to use the military to end the violence that has engulfed protests against police violence for more than a week. A decision of questionable legality.

He had self-established himself as a "wartime president" to fight the Covid-19. The scene has changed, but the tone remains the same: Donald Trump said on Monday (June 1st) that he was ready to deploy the military to the U.S. territory to "dominate" the streets, while protests against police violence have multiplied throughout the country.

Uprising or re-election Will Donald Trump take the risk of mobilizing the military

The threat to send soldiers to quell the anger that has been raging since the death of George Floyd, an African-American who was suffocated during a police check on Monday, May 25, has caused a stir in the AMERICAN media. New York Magazine sees it as a sign of a president yielding to his authoritarian temptations, while CNN anchor Don Lemon wondered if Donald Trump was really ready to "declare war on American citizens."

A law more than 100 years old

But beyond the political significance of such a move, the use of the military is a legally dubious option. In theory, the president cannot dispatch military personnel for law enforcement operations on U.S. soil. It is a mission that falls under the authority of the governors of each state. They can call on the National Guard, U.S. Army reservists in each state. While they are usually mobilized during natural disasters, they can also intervene when civilian movements overflow.

The president has no say except to invoke the Uprising Act, an 1807 law that allows the chief executive to mobilize the military on American soil in exceptional circumstances.
This allows him to intervene at the request of a governor who would feel overwhelmed by the events. This is what happened in 1992, the last time the Insurrection Act was used. During the racial riots in Los Angeles, triggered by the acquittal of the police officers accused of beating Rodney King, the governor of California requested and obtained from President George Bush the deployment of the army to restore calm.

It's hard to imagine, however, that Minnesota Gov. Tim Waltz is calling on Donald Trump to help control the outbursts at protests in Minneapolis. Illustrating the reluctance of local authorities to work hand-in-hand with Donald Trump, New York Attorney General Letitia James said that "the President of the United States is not a dictator, and he is not going to 'dominate' New York."

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