President Donald Trump said he would deploy active-duty American armed forces to stop unrest in major American cities if governors fail to use the National Guard.
On Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced that he opposed the president’s plan. Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, has been a staunch Trump supporter in the House of Representatives, but he also said that he opposed the president on this.
“I agree with Secretary Esper,” Byrne said on Twitter. “At this time there is absolutely no reason to use the Insurrection Act to deploy active duty U.S. forces. This is an option that should only be used as a last resort.”
“I’ve always believed and continue to believe that the National Guard is best suited for performing domestic support for civil authorities in these situations in support of local law enforcement,” Esper said at a news conference on Wednesday. “I say that 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 U.S. armed forces in a law enforcement rule should be used only as a last resort and then only in the most urgent and dire of situation. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”
This is directly counter to the policy stated by Trump on Monday.
“Innocent people of have been savagely beaten, like the young man in Dallas, Texas, who was left dying on the street. Or the woman in upstate New York, viciously attacked by dangerous thugs,” Trump said. “Small business owners have seen their dreams utterly destroyed. New York’s Finest have been hit in the face with bricks. Brave nurses, who have battled the virus, are afraid to leave their homes. A police precinct station has been overrun. Here in the nation’s capital, the Lincoln Memorial and the World War Two Memorial have been vandalized. One of our most historic churches was set ablaze. A federal officer in California, an African-American enforcement hero, was shot and killed.”
“These are not acts of peaceful protest. These are acts of domestic terror,” Trump stated. “Violence against any American will never be tolerated. Tonight, President Trump announced executive actions to stop the rioting and restore safety to our cities.
Trump recommended every governor deploy the National Guard and establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled. If a city or state refuses to take action, then the U.S. Military will be deployed.
The president also announced decisive action to protect Washington, D.C., and our cherished national monuments. “As 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.”
At this time, we do not know if the president’s policy will actually be carried out or not as the Trump Administration official tasked with carrying out the policy, Mark Esper has, announced his public opposition to the plan.
There were riots in Birmingham on Sunday. A number of people, including reporters, were assaulted dozens of businesses were burglarized and looted and much of Birmingham’s downtown was vandalized. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin has declared a state of emergency and instituted a citywide curfew between 7:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
That has since been extended to all of Jefferson County and is in place through June 9. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has activated one thousand Alabama National Guard troops to be deployed if requested.
Congressman Bradley Byrne is not running for another term representing Alabama’s First Congressional District.
(Original reporting by the Hill contributed to this report.)