CBS Sacramento/screenshotWitness say police fired at peaceful protestors and even bystanders. “I am very lucky to be alive.”
Attorney General Bill Barr absurdly claimed Thursday that his decision to forcefully disperse peaceful protesters near the White House on Monday had nothing to do with President Donald Trump’s subsequent walk to a nearby church for a photo op.
“Obviously, my interest was to carry out the law enforcement functions of the federal government and to protect federal facilities and federal personnel, and also to address the rioting that was interfering with the government’s function, and that was what we were doing,” Barr said during a news conference.
“I think the president is the head of the executive branch and the chief executive of the nation and should be able to walk outside the White House and walk across the street to the ‘church of presidents,’” he added. “I don’t necessarily view that as a political act. I think it was entirely appropriate for him to do.
“I did not know that he was going to do that until later in the day after our plans were well underway to move the perimeter,” Barr said. “So, there was no correlation between our tactical plan of moving the perimeter out by one block and the president’s going over to the church. The president asked members of his cabinet to go over there with him … and I think it was appropriate for us to go over with him.”
The post AG Barr: My Decision to Tear-Gas Protesters Had Nothing to Do With Trump’s Photo Op (WATCH) appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.
Rocco Carley | Oregon State Athletics
Rocco Carley can be heard making homophobic, racist and Islamophobic remarks on a video that surfaced online late Wednesday night.
Oregon State University has dismissed Tight End Rocco Carley from the school’s football team after a video surfaced late Wednesday night which depicts Carley making homophobic, racist and Islamophobic statements.
In the video, Carley can be heard saying “kill the gays,” in what, according to Carley, was meant to be a “very satire example” of a “Southern man” voice.
He goes on to say similarly abhorrent remarks about Black people and Muslims.
— Francesca Piccirilli (@francescapic3) June 4, 2020
Oregon State head football coach Jonathan Smith contacted Oregon State Athletic Director Scott Barnes soon after the video was brought to his attention. The decision was swiftly made to dismiss Carley. “We both agreed this language and attitude is entirely unacceptable, regardless of circumstance or environment,” said Smith in a statement via Twitter. “I will not tolerate racism or hate speech.”
Barnes also released a statement via Twitter calling Carley’s dismissal a “necessary and appropriate action,” stating that “racism of any kind is unacceptable on the Oregon State campus and within our athletic department.”
— Go Beavs (@BeaverAthletics) June 4, 2020
Out Oregon State football alum, former NFL player and LGBTQ advocate Esera Tuaolo also expressed outrage upon learning of Carley’s statements.
“During these times, there is so much hate that’s going out there and so many people with all the protesting, rioting, and murders, I was surprised that someone would come out with a video like that. Especially at Oregon State where I went to school,” Tuaolo told Outsports. “The things that he said were very scarring. Not just not just to the LGBTQ community and African community but also for the Muslim community.”
Tuaolo told Outsports that he plans to reach out to Oregon State to see if he can help in any way. Tuaolo heads the nonprofit organization Hate Is Wrong, which focuses on “fostering diversity in sports and anti-bullying among youth.”
“In order for us to heal as a nation, we need to eliminate stuff like this. We need to bring awareness to situations like this,” Tuaolo added.
Carley released an apology via Twitter following his dismissal, claiming that “the video was taken three years ago in a groupchat where me and my friends were saying stupid things” and that the video didn’t “represent” him.
Share your thoughts on Carley’s video, his apology and his dismissal in the comments below.
Puerto Ricans bring out a guillotine and trans Pride flags as hundreds join Black Lives Matter protest
Housebound people in Puerto Rico may have looked out of their pastel-splashed houses to see a rather remarkable sight from their balconies – Black Lives Matter demonstrators hauling a guillotine and a trans Pride flag catching the sun as it’s waved.
The message the hundreds of the islands residents had to Puerto Rico authorities was clear Tuesday morning (June 2) – racially discriminatory policing must come to an end.
— misionHCEP (@HcepMision) June 2, 2020
Holy shit Puerto Rico just brought a guillotine to the Governor’s mansion for their #BlackLivesMatter protest.
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) June 3, 2020
It was an all too familiar sight for Old San Juan locals, where, last year, thousands thronged the city streets to protest against then-governor Richardo Rosselló. The lawmaker’s homophobic exchanges with top aids saw LGBT+ people unite together to call for his resignation.
This weeks’ protesters appeared to capture that tenacity once again, with trans Pride flans swung by Black Lives Matter demonstrators – touching off a brutal wave of killings of trans citizens in 2020.
Protesters paralysed the tight streets of the city as they surrounded the mansion of governor Wanda Vázquez.
As nightfall ended, they ignored the island’s enforced curfew and refused to decamp, frustrated demonstrators chanted loudly, demanding accountability to white supremacy sparked by the killing of George Floyd.
Tucked in the throes of Monday’s protest in Loíza, where more than 60 per cent of residents identify as Black, protests carried on even as police forces pulsed and pushed against then, the Daily Kos reported.
Five trans people killed in Puerto Rico in 2020 alone.
The deaths of trans women Layla Peláez and Serena Angelique Velázquez in April ripped across the LGBT+ community, outraging activists who are steadily becoming numb to the relentless violence against trans people in Puerto Rico.
So far this year at least five trans people have been killed in the US territory.
Penélope Díaz Ramírez, 31, was killed in a correctional centre on April 13. Her death was not reported until April 27 by the Human Rights Campaign.
Yampi Méndez Arocho, a 19-year-old trans man, was killed in Moca on March 5.
In February, trans homeless woman Alexa Negrón Luciano, a well-known figure on Puerto Rican social media, was shot to death. Her final moments, mercilessly recorded on social media, capture the apparent impunity anti-LGBT+ attackers feel in their crimes.
Many of the cases echoed the brutal murder of gender-nonconforming teen Jorge Steven, found decapitated, dismembered and set ablaze in 2009.
Puerto Rican activists have desperately warned: “They are hunting us.”
“There is no longer any doubt, this is an epidemic of anti-LGBT+ violence,” said Serrano.
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Trans women are planning to leave the UK because they feel it is no longer safe or sensible for them to remain.
GSN has spoken to a number of women who are making serious plans to leave the country. Moreover, the trans people we have spoken to have friends and know others on social media who are also considering fleeing Britain.
One trans community leader said people are ‘absolutely terrified’ and feel they have no choice but to leave.
Some are even saying they will seek asylum if they don’t already have citizenship rights in another country.
It comes after the UK’s new Women and Equalities Minister Liz Truss launched an unprecedented attack on trans rights.
In April, Truss indicated the government may reduce trans people’s freedom to use single-sex spaces. She also implied they would prevent trans youth getting the right medical care.
The trans community now fears this means a ‘bathroom bill’ preventing them from using the right toilets may be coming.
Without such a basic right, they argue that trans people will no longer be able to do basic day-to-day things like shopping and socialising.
‘I no longer feel safe’
Writer and GSN contributor Jane Fae is one of those thinking of leaving Britain.
She said: ‘As a trans person I no longer feel safe. And the reason I don’t feel safe is not the random on-street stuff.
‘There has always been an undertone of violence directed at me and trans people generally.
‘But at least there has been a sense that the government understood and was happy to go along with broadly accepted rights that have been won in this country and that are accepted elsewhere. Now I’ve lost faith the government will defend us.’
She has started to plan a move, so she is not ‘caught on the hop’. In particular, she is looking at whether she’d need asylum seeker status to live in New Zealand.
But when she started to ask around, she found a surprising number of others were also considering leaving.
Fae added: ‘It has gone beyond just talk, there are people making actual plans.
‘Everyone in the LGBT+ community lives with a little extra risk but you just get used to it. But this is a whole new level of risk. This is the possibility that the government in this country may no longer support us.’
‘Permanent lockdown’ for trans people
Many of those GSN spoke to said steadily increasing transphobia in Britain made them feel less safe.
However, the comments by Truss have triggered them to make serious plans to leave.
One trans woman who works as an academic said she is seeking employment abroad. And as soon as the embassy re-opens, she will apply for a Maltese passport.
The woman, who didn’t want to be named, told GSN:
‘In effect what Liz Truss is planning is extending lockdown for trans people. Everybody hates lockdown, not being able to go out and socialise. What Liz Truss is planning is indefinite lockdown for trans people.
‘One of the reasons I live in London is I like to go out and socialise in pubs and clubs and restaurants. But if I can’t go out because I can’t use the loo, there’s not much point in staying here. It makes our lives unlivable.’
The academic also warned that Truss’ plans, if they came into force, would also ‘increase violence against trans people, trans women in particular’.
She added: ‘There has already been a trans woman who has been able to obtain trans status in New Zealand because of the transphobia here. I think we would see actual British refugees abroad.’
‘Brexit brought about a lot of intolerance’
Several of the people GSN spoke to didn’t want their names used. In some cases that was because they are seriously considering leaving and didn’t want their current employers to know. But for others it was because they feared for their safety.
One of those, a long term trans campaigner, now says she has four locks on her door. She said transphobes are physically stalking campaigners.
She is considering moving to Portugal but knows of people who have fled to New Zealand and to Switzerland and others who are making plans.
Alongside a transphobic press, she became disillusioned in Britain after the Brexit referendum. Moreover, she says ‘Brexit brought about a lot of intolerance’.
However, Liz Truss ‘bringing in toilet laws’ is also a factor.
Before coronavirus struck, she visited Portugal to look at properties. She will be returning as soon as travel restrictions allow.
‘I bought a stab vest’
Another trans woman, Caz Hatten, told GSN she fears for her safety. She is tying up loose ends before hoping to move to Canada.
She said: ‘I can’t take any more. I was attacked by a cis woman last year and I’ve been been harassed. Now Liz Truss is so hostile, I know what is coming next. I know it’s going to escalate.
‘If I can get out, I feel like I’m letting everyone else down. In particular, I feel like I’m letting trans kids down by leaving the country. But otherwise I just fear I’m going to get killed or something.’
Meanwhile her new worry is whether she will be able to gain asylum.
Pride organizer and homelessness volunteer Claire Green has also experienced violence. She speculated things got worse after the Brexit referendum which emboldened people to be more hateful and racist.
She told GSN: ‘I’m a six foot three trans person so I am quite a visible target for verbal and physical abuse.
‘People try to trip you up or give you a shove. I’ve had rocks thrown at me and been punched. Three times in the last year, someone has threatened me with a knife. It got so bad that I bought a stab vest but I still don’t feel safe.’
The 54 year old is thinking of moving next year. Partly she wants a fresh start but she adds: ‘I don’t want to have to face violence and threats as often as I do.’
‘Most UK people support trans rights’
Meanwhile trans campaigner Rin Withers, who runs several online LGBT+ communities, has slightly different reasons for leaving. She doesn’t particularly fear the Truss’ proposed legislation. But she does feel the UK doesn’t represent her values any more.
She is so serious about moving that she’s been learning Norwegian and applying for jobs in Scandinavia. Withers says her trans partner is also considering a move.
She told GSN: ‘I firmly believe a majority of people support trans rights in the UK. But there is a more vocal minority who try to demean me and make me feel less of a person.
‘It feels there is always a target on my back because of the person I am. It has just worn me down.
‘I am really fortunate I could move abroad with three months notice. There are many, many trans people who wished they had some way to not feel trapped.’
‘People are really scared’
Trans writer Gemma Stone is one of those who feels she can’t leave. She remains tied to the country by her family. And in any case she told GSN she ‘could not afford to leave’.
Despite this, she said: ‘I have genuinely looked at moving to New Zealand or Canada. A lot of people have had enough and are really scared.
‘I haven’t seen many trans guys saying it but the hate campaign is mostly targeting women.’
Stone says trans women are used to restrictions. For example, she doesn’t feel she can access public swimming pools so seeks out ‘some hidden cove’ to indulge her love of swimming.
But the fact the UK government has stalled progress on reviewing the Gender Recognition Act for several years has heightened tensions.
Moreover, she fears Truss’ apparent policy of having ‘women’s only spaces just for cis women’ shows rights may roll backwards.
‘Severe discrimination against women’
GSN spoke with a trans community leader who said people are ‘absolutely terrified’ by Truss’ proposals. However, they don’t know how to fight them, with coronavirus making protest harder.
Moreover, the Conservative party’s House of Commons majority of 80 makes it easy for the government to turn policies into law.
The trans woman, who didn’t want her name used, said:
‘We are not in rational politics anymore. If she tabled a very short bill, she could ram it through very quickly.’
She said the government’s plans are an attack on the ‘dignity and safety’ of trans women and all women. She added:
‘How demeaning it is for a trans person to have to go into birth sex loos and how unsafe it is for trans women? Then trans guys will have to go to the women’s loos. Do you want a chap going into the ladies because he was born female at birth. So then any man can go in.
‘The logical outcome is every woman in the country would have to buy another piece of ID. So you have severe discrimination against women.’
‘I want to be proud of this country but this country doesn’t want me’
She is considering moving to Ireland and has spoken to her wife about it.
She added: ‘It is heartbreaking. I am British. I want to be proud of this country but this country doesn’t want me.
‘I hear people talking about moving to Portugal, to Italy, Malta and further afield including Canada, New Zealand, Australia. Everybody I have spoken to who is trans and can afford it is looking to leave.
‘That is a massive indictment when a whole chunk of society feels like this country is no longer safe for them.
‘It tears me apart because you have a responsibility to fight for people who can’t afford to do things. And it is gutting for all the people who felt five or six years ago that we may move into a more accepting time.’
The fresh threat to trans lives in the UK comes at a time when the country is preparing to fully leave the EU in December.
The European Court of Justice has been an important player in introducing and guaranteeing trans rights in the country.
Moreover, some Conservative politicians have even hinted the UK may leave the European Court of Human Rights – a separate institution – when Brexit is finished.
GSN contacted the Government Equalities Office, which represents Truss, to put these women’s concerns to them and ask them to comment.
A spokesperson replied: ‘The Secretary of State has said that she wants to ensure transgender adults are safe and free to live their lives.’
GSN had previously asked the government for more clarity on its plans and been told they are not commenting further on them.
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Black trans woman brutally beaten by mob of more than 30 men in heartbreaking attack over minor fender bender
A video has gone viral of a Black trans woman in Minnesota being violently attacked by a group of men.
The shocking, graphic video shows an incident on Monday after an apparent car accident in Minneapolis – which has been the centre of unrest over the death of George Floyd.
Black trans woman horrifically beaten in Minneapolis
In the clip, which PinkNews is not sharing, men can be seen brutally attacking Iyanna Dior after following her into a shop, while others look on.
Some of the men can be heard shouting anti-LGBT slurs while Dior is beaten.
It is unclear what happened before the incident. It does not appear that anyone involved has been arrested in connection with the attack.
Taking to Facebook, Dior said: “Thanks to everyone reaching out making sure I’m ok. Imma talk real soon.”
She added: “BLACK TRANS LIVE MATTER ”
The young trans woman documented her injuries in a Facebook Live, saying: “The whole side of my face is literally swollen, it hurts so bad. On my forehead, I have knots and scratches.
“My f**king arm is just swollen, it hurts so bad. I need to go to the hospital. My bottom teeth cut up my lips on the inside. A lot of s**t happened.”
Trans activists send messages in support of Iyanna Dior
In a lengthy Instagram post, Pose executive producer Janet Mock wrote: “Sis. I’m sorry. I’m so f**king sorry. They didn’t have to come after you. But they did. There’s no f**king excuse for their brutality, their dangerous ignorance, their fragile masculinity. That s**t been killing us.
She added: “My heart aches for you. But we got you sis. You’re gonna heal. You rest now. Let us carry what you can’t right now. You deserve rest and peace. We’re showing the f**k up.
“Our fight for Black lives will not be in sacrifice of you or our sisters. We must stop centring cisgender heterosexual men and their needs. We will not ignore the violence some of these men enact on you, our sisters’ and our siblings’ lives.
“If Black lives matter then Black trans lives should matter as well. We are here. We been here. We need our Black cisgender siblings to roll up RIGHT NOW. You ain’t no ally. You are family. We are your family.”
The incident is strikingly similar to the treatment of Muhlaysia Booker, a trans woman who was brutally beaten by a mob in Dallas in 2019 after a car accident. Booker was murdered just weeks later, prompting outrage from the trans community.
The post Black trans woman brutally beaten by mob of more than 30 men in heartbreaking attack over minor fender bender appeared first on PinkNews – Gay news, reviews and comment from the world's most read lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans news service.
Mark Esper, Frank Rizzo, Justin Trudeau, Darren Criss, Ella Jones, Greg Gianforte, LGBTQ YouTubers, James Corden: HOT LINKS
MILITARY FORCE. Defense Secretary Mark Esper breaks with Trump, does not support use of active duty troops to control protests: “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. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act,” he said during a briefing at the Pentagon.
PHILADELPHIA. Frank Rizzo statue removed: “The statue was damaged on Saturday when crowds tried to bring it down, and eventually set it on fire. Crews removed the statue from Thomas Paine Plaza across from City Hall around 2 a.m. on Wednesday. … Rizzo was mayor of Philadelphia from 1972 to 1980, During his tenure, Rizzo was praised by supporters as tough on crime but accused by critics of discriminating against minorities.”
43 ALUMNI FOR BIDEN. Former officials from the Bush administration form Super PAC to support Joe Biden’s campaign. “The super PAC, dubbed 43 Alumni For Biden, referring to the 43rd president, was formed Monday, according to a Tuesday filing with the Federal Election Commission.”
BLACK TRANS LIVES MATTER. Darren Criss and his wife Mia supported the LGBTQ community at L.A. protests.
NIGHTMARE FUEL OF THE DAY. This photo:
ELLA JONES. Ferguson, Missouri has its first black and first female mayor. “It’s just our time,” Jones, 65, said in an interview Tuesday night. “It’s just my time to do right by the people.”
ONE-THIRD. Benefit checks lag by $67 billion: “Almost one-third of unemployment benefits estimated to be owed to the millions of Americans who lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus slump haven’t been paid yet, as flagship policies struggle to cope with the unprecedented wave of layoffs.The Treasury disbursed $146 billion in unemployment benefits in the three months through May, according to data published Monday — more than in the whole of 2009, when jobless rates peaked after the financial crisis.But even that historic figure falls short of a total bill that should have reached about $214 billion for the period, according to Bloomberg calculations based on weekly unemployment filings and the average size of those claims.”
CAROLE BASKIN. Husband Don Lewis’s will was forged, according to sheriff: “Here’s why the will is so important … it has a bizarre clause that says in case of Don’s disappearance Carole gets everything. Talk to any estate planning expert and they will tell you … they’ve NEVER seen a clause like that — EVER.”
DEEP DIVE OF THE DAY. Behind Trump’s church photo-op: “He wanted to send the military into American cities, an idea that provoked a heated, voices-raised fight among his advisers. But by the end of the day, urged on by his daughter Ivanka Trump, he came up with a more personal way of demonstrating toughness — he would march across Lafayette Square to a church damaged by fire the night before.”
MONTANA. Congressman Greg Gianforte, who assaulted journalist, wins Republican nomination for governor. “Gianforte is a former businessman who sold a start-up company to technology giant Oracle in 2011 for $1.8 billion. He lost the first time he ran for Montana governor in 2016 against incumbent Democrat Steve Bullock.” FLASHBACK: Journalist assault.
MESSAGE OF SUPPORT OF THE DAY. James Corden.
LAWSUIT OF THE DAY. LGBTQ YouTubes are suing Google for discrimination. Here’s why:
HUMP DAY HOTTIE. Michael Weferling.
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Happy Rainbow Riot Month The first Pride was a RIOT. Literally. The Stonewall Riots were a protest against police brutality towards LGBTQIA that happened outside of The Stonewall Inn in New York City at 1:20 a.m. on Saturday, June 28, 1969. We celebrate those riots to this day. Wow, how everything comes full circle. Black queers, queer people and allies came together in resistance to the system that tried to take a way the little power and space that society allowed for them to be themselves. But Black, queer woman like, Stormé DeLarverie, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera (Latina) were the leaders of thousands that fought back at the police. In addition to the hustlers, street youths, and "queens,” that participated in these riots, they were joined by curious bystanders, tourists and "police provocateurs" — which could now, as of recent events be known as instigators. There is NO tolerance for those trying to piggy-back and ruin the message that is Black Lives Matter. If you are our allies, be an ally. Do NOT seek to destroy our message (by vandalizing and tagging our movement on buildings, asking us to destroy property, destroying property and leaving us responsible for your perversions) just because YOU need an excuse to “get off. Plenty of police officers participated in these deviant activities as well. We see you: you are just as bad if not worse as white supremacists because you blend in with us but are actually against what we stand for. If it were not for The Stonewall Riots, we would not have Pride parties today. The protests led to the parties — NEVER forget that. Thank you to those that have come before us to bring us to this place of acceptance in our society. We still clearly need to help my Black brothers and sisters in the fight for equality and we ask that our true friends and allies, “PULL UP.” Happy Pride! Happy Black History! Happy Queer History! We need to make our history better for those that we will be bringing (and teaching) into this world, so it will become more harmonious: like a rainbow
Kuat Khamitov is also known as Naiman. Either way, he’s virulently anti-LGBTQ. | Instagram
Kuat Khamitov trampled on and burned a Pride flag on Instagram while representing Kazakhstan.
A professional MMA fighter in Kazakhstan has unleashed attacks on LGBTQ people. Now a gay soccer player and her girlfriend are afraid for their safety.
Kuat Khamitov, also known as Naiman, attacked an LGBTQ-supportive video in Instagram, saying in the comments that LGBTQ people are “worse than dogs,” adding that dogs should be offended by such a comparison. His supporters followed up with comments about LGBTQ people being worse than pigs.
The video, created by the British Embassy in Kazakhstan to honor the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, featured messages of support for the LGBTQ community from many ambassadors, including the American ambassador appointed by Donald Trump, William Moser.
LGBTQ activist Nurbibi Nurkadilova responded with an open letter to Khamitov, criticizing him for his disturbing statement.
“Why do you compare my human rights, the rights of a citizen of this country, with those of a dog?” She asked. “Do you consider me powerless? Or do you compare my mental development with the canine? Or maybe you wanted to draw a parallel between the fact that we also need to put on a chain like dogs? I do not fully understand your ridiculous and stupid statement!”
Nurkadilova said the response from Khamitov’s fans and others in her home country has been swift and deeply disturbing.
“I have received thousands of messages with threats and insults,” she told Outsports in an exclusive interview. “They are all in Russian and Kazakh but say, ‘You’ll burn in hell,’ ‘I will kill you,’ ‘You’re worse than an animal,’ ‘I’ll rape you,’ ‘You don’t belong in this country,’ ‘Go to America,’ ‘You’re the shame of the country,’ and other ugly comments. A normal person would be shocked.”
Days after the controversy erupted, Khamitov posted an image of himself stepping on and burning a Pride flag, saying in the caption that LGBTQ people disgrace the nation.
For Nurkadilova, that image was extremely damaging.
“I believe that Kuat Khamitov should not be allowed to participate in world competitions after such homophobic statements,” Nurkadilova told Outsports. “This is humiliating for the entire community. It can be considered as an incitement of violence against the LGBT community. And the saddest thing is that he has a large number of followers. They are ready to kill us because we are different.
LGBT rights in Kazakhstan are virtually non-existent. While same-sex sexual activity is not criminal, there is no recognition of relationships and zero discrimination protections. A 2015 report published by the Human Rights Watch described “a climate of fear” for LGBTQ people living in Kazakhstan.
Nurkadilova told Outsports she is particularly afraid for her girlfriend, who is a soccer player who has represented Kazakhstan on the national team as recently as last year.
“I’m afraid for her,” she said.
Nurkadilova has reached out to Dana White and UFC for comment, but it is customary for professional sports organizations to decline commenting on incidents by athletes who are not competing under their banner.
However, she said the Kazakhstan Mixed Martial Arts Federation and International Mixed Martial Arts Federation have both responded assuring her that Khamitov is not a member of their organizations.
Khamitov fights on Fight Nights Global, a Russian promotion that’s more likely to embrace than reject his violent, demeaning anti-LGBTQ messages.
The two women live together and are engaged to marry, though same-sex marriage isn’t legal, and there are no indications it will be legal in Kazakhstan any time soon.
While they are together, they have no idea what the near future holds. And they are scared.
“Our faces are now known to everyone,” Nurkadilova said. “And like Kuat, his followers are very aggressive and cruel. The biggest problem for us now is just to live a normal life. I can’t even go to work right now. We stay home. I don’t know what will happen next. I’m even afraid to plan anything. No one knows what to expect from these people. They are so aggressive.”
After a week of both peaceful protests and violent chaos in the wake of George Floyd’s death, President Donald Trump announced, “If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”
Is Trump’s warning just bluster? Does the president have the authority to send the military into American cities?
The answer to this question involves a web of legal provisions that help define the president’s constitutional roles as commander in chief and chief executive of the country and that simultaneously try to balance presidential power with the power of state leaders.
‘Protect states in times of violence’
Tracing back to the Magna Carta, the British charter of liberty signed in 1215, there is a longstanding tradition against military involvement in civilian affairs.
However, the U.S. Constitution guarantees that the national government will protect the states in times of violence and permits Congress to enact laws that enable the military to aid in carrying out the law.
Almost immediately after the Constitution’s enactment in 1787, Congress passed a law that allowed the president to use the military to respond to a series of citizen rebellions.
Troops serving as what’s called “posse comitatus,” which translates roughly to “attendants with the capacity to act,” could be called to suppress insurrections and help carry out federal laws.
Following the Civil War, the national government used troops in this capacity to aid in Reconstruction efforts, particularly in states that had been part of the Confederacy.
The use of troops in this manner may even have influenced the outcome of the 1876 presidential election of Republican Rutherford B. Hayes. That happened when, in return for agreeing to withdraw federal troops from the South, Democrats informally agreed to the election of Hayes when the disputed election was thrown to a congressional commission.
Two years later, Hayes signed into law the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibited the use of the military in civilian matters.
The Posse Comitatus Act has not changed much since that time. The law prohibits the use of the military in civilian matters but, over time, Congress has passed at least 26 exemptions to the act that allow the president to send troops into states.
The exemptions range from providing military personnel to protect national parks to helping states in carrying out state quarantine and health laws.
What exemption would President Trump use if he wants to send the military to one or more states?
He would likely rely on the Insurrection Act, which governs certain circumstances when the president can use the military. Signed by Thomas Jefferson in 1807, Congress originally passed the law in order to help fight citizen rebellions against federal taxes.
Over time, the law has evolved to allow the use of troops in other circumstances. For example, Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson used the Insurrection Act in the 1950s and 1960s to send the military to enforce court desegregation orders and to protect civil rights marchers.
It was last invoked by President George H.W. Bush in 1992, when he ordered 4,500 troops to Los Angeles after rioting erupted in response to the acquittal of police officers charged with beating Rodney King.
The Insurrection Act says that the president may use the armed forces to subdue an insurrection or rebellion and take such measures as he considers necessary to suppress violence.
But before doing so, he must issue a proclamation ordering insurgents to disperse and return to their homes.
While state governors and legislatures also have the legal authority to ask the president to use troops in this manner, none have done that during this period of unrest. The states have preferred to rely on a combination of local law enforcement and the National Guard, which is under state command, not federal.
Not only does this strategy enable governors to maintain authority over their states’ responses to the clashes in the wake of George Floyd’s death, but it also keeps things more straightforward legally and politically.
Reliance on the Insurrection Act raises a host of political and practical questions about who is in charge when the military sends troops into a state.
For example, despite the fact that the act was invoked in response to the Rodney King riots, the military actually was not used as directed. The Joint Task Force Commander in control of the mission appears to have been confused regarding how the Insurrection Act worked alongside the provisions of the Posse Comitatus Act. He issued an order prohibiting troops from directly supporting law enforcement and that led to numerous denials of requests for assistance.
Questions about the federal government’s authority in the wake of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana raised similar concerns.
The administration of President George W. Bush determined that it had authority under the Insurrection Act to send federal troops to the area, despite the fact that Louisiana’s governor was opposed to military assistance.
For political reasons, President Bush did not end up deploying troops but, in 2006, Congress amended the law to address concerns that the military was unable to provide effective assistance to states in emergency situations.
The amendment was later repealed when all 50 state governors raised objections to what they perceived as a grant of unilateral power to the president.
These examples suggest a real difficulty balancing governmental responses to domestic crises. States need the flexibility and authority to respond as they see fit to the needs of their citizens.
But the federal government can and often does serve as a supplemental resource. As the events of the past week illustrate, striking an effective balance is rarely a straightforward thing.
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