An image taken Tuesday night shows scores of National Guard troops standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as protesters calling for justice for George Floyd and other Black victims of police violence demonstrated peacefully below.
District of Columbia National Guard members, many masked, occupied the steps as anti-racism protests sparked by Floydâ€™s death last week in Minneapolis continued for a fifth day.
It comes in the wake of incendiary comments from President Donald Trump a day earlier. During a call with governors and in a Rose Garden address, Trump threatened to crack down on the nationwide protests with military force, making no mention of the violent tactics employed by police and building on his previous rhetoric casting demonstrators as â€œthugs.â€
â€œAs we speak, 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,â€ Trump said in his address, not long after federal officers deployed flash-bang grenades and tear gas to forcefully clear out a peaceful group of protesters near the White House so the president could walk to a nearby church for a photo-op.
Over the weekend, after some peaceful gatherings turned to violent clashes with police, some landmarks and buildings in Washington were vandalized, and fires were lit near the White House.
The staggering image of the military guarding the monument drew outcry online.
I’ll say it again:
When America was rocked with massive antiwar protests in the wake of the Kent State shooting in 1970, not only were protesters still allowed at the Lincoln Memorial, but President Nixon even made a late-night trip there to talk with them personally. https://t.co/aevSoYM8qC
â€” Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) June 3, 2020
President Trump has kidnapped the Lincoln Memorial. His militarization of sacred spaces like this is offensive. When can we again get government of the people, by the people, for the people? https://t.co/Zv50leUw3S
â€” Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) June 3, 2020
The point is that the Lincoln Memorial is a symbol of our country overcoming a White supremacist insurrection by the Confederacy and slavery. We now have a White supremacist President taking away the right to protest by those fighting White supremacy. Do you get it now?
â€” Debra Guckenheimer (@DGuckenheimer) June 3, 2020
Donald Trump doesnâ€™t give a frogâ€™s fat ass about the First Amendment because the Second Amendment lines his coffers. https://t.co/8rMnXHEpL2
â€” Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) June 3, 2020
Some of y’all might think police brutality and abuse of power is a Black problem, but guess what…authoritarianism is an everybody problem. Just remember when your rights are wiped away that all Black folks asked for is for you to stop killing us. https://t.co/uAVTO0KGlL
â€” BlackWomenViews (@blackwomenviews) June 3, 2020