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Protests and riots in America update: 1,600 active duty troops were moved into the DC area

11:21 | 03/06/2020

1,600 active duty troops were moved into the DC area, curfews in cities coast to coast, former President George W Bush calls for unity, Los Angeles Mayor says he's "proud" of peaceful protesters and thousands defy curfew for peaceful march in New York are remarkable updated news relating to protests and riots in the US today.

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1,600 active duty troops were moved into the DC area to assist civil authorities

According to CNN, the Pentagon confirmed June 2 that about 1,600 active duty troops had been moved from Fort Bragg and Fort Drum to the Washington, DC area to assist civil authorities if needed.  

No active duty forces have been deployed in DC as of now, but the “active duty elements are postured on military bases in the National Capitol Region”, said Pentagon Chief spokesman Jonathan Hoffman in a statement, describing the movement as a "prudent planning measure”.

protests and riots in america update 1600 active duty troops were moved into the dc area

California National Guard troops at City Hall in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

US troops from the 82nd airborne division have been moved from their base in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to the outskirts of Washington DC, according to multiple reports from unnamed defense department officials.

Around 700 members of the 82nd are now poised at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland and Fort Belvoir in Virginia, the Associated Press reported. Joint Base Andrews is where Air Force One takes off when the president goes on trips and is minutes from the White House, just outside the boundary of the capital.

protests and riots in america update 1600 active duty troops were moved into the dc area
Photo: ABC News

It is not clear if this is (almost literal) saber-rattling from the president, who has been talking hardline on law and order, displaying hardware in order to intimidate protesters, or if those troops will really be seen on the streets of Washington.

The president has the jurisdiction to send US troops into the federal capital pretty freely, without invoking legislation or seeking permission as would be the case with a state.

Curfews in cities coast to coast

As reported by The Guardian, from New York City to Fargo, North Dakota, cities large and small have put curfews in place, in some cases for the first time in decades, sending out emergency notices on phones and highway signs urging people to stay off the streets. However, the deadlines aren’t hard and fast many of them have exceptions for people heading to and from work, reporters, public transportation and even people buying groceries.

Many protesters and citizens have routinely disregarded the restrictions, and police have allowed peaceful demonstrations to continue after curfew while focusing their attention on outbreaks of chaos or violence. A curfew allows police the ability without any other reason to threaten to arrest or detain crowds of protesters that linger or groups that appear to be a danger to order.

protests and riots in america update 1600 active duty troops were moved into the dc area
People set fire to vehicles during a protest in Seattle on Saturday. Photo: AP

New York City put in place a large-scale curfew for what appeared to be the first time in nearly 80 years this week as groups vandalized buildings and stole from stores. The curfew was originally 11 pm, but Mayor Bill de Blasio rolled it back to 8 pm, before the sun goes down.

Curfews have been installed in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Detroit, Denver. Philadelphia and hundreds of other cities and communities large and small, coast to coast and north to south across the country. In northern California, Sacramento city councilman Steve Hansen said the city’s 8pm curfew “really is to keep people from coming sort of to gawk at what’s going on and keep the looky-loos away”.

The curfews also come on the heels of lockdowns and stay-at-home orders imposed during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

protests and riots in america update 1600 active duty troops were moved into the dc area
Photo: ABC News.

Former President George W Bush calls for unity, equal justice

Former President George W. Bush on June 2 spoke out about the turmoil that has followed the death of George Floyd.  He and former first lady Laura Bush are “disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our country”, CNBC reported.

In the cited statement, he said: “It remains a shocking failure that many African Americans, especially young African American men, are harassed and threatened in their own country. It is a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future,” the former Republican president said.

protests and riots in america update 1600 active duty troops were moved into the dc area

President George W. Bush speaks at a conversation about Social Security in Louisville, Kentucky, March 10, 2005. Phto: Brooks Kraft LLC/orbis/Getty Images

“America’s greatest challenge has long been to unite people of very different backgrounds into a single nation of justice and opportunity. ... Many doubt the justice of our country, and with good reason”.

Bush concluded the statement with a call for “peace rooted in justice.” “There is a better way — the way of empathy, and shared commitment, and bold action, and a peace rooted in justice. I am confident that together, Americans will choose the better way,” Bush said.

Los Angeles Mayor says he's "proud" of peaceful protesters

In reaction to the thousands of protestors gathered in front of his residence, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he wants them to know he can hear them loud and clear.

“I’m proud of the protestors across the city who are peacefully expressing themselves,” Garcetti said in a press conference on Tuesday. “I embrace our right to do that and I’m glad that it has been peaceful”.

protests and riots in america update 1600 active duty troops were moved into the dc area
Demonstrators march through the streets on June 2 in Los Angeles. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

CNN reported that while thanking police officers for their hard work, Mayor Garcetti said that looting is decreasing in the city and that it has been dealt with pretty swiftly. 1,000 members of the National Guard are on the streets of Los Angeles, he said.

"We will go after folks who break into businesses. We will go after people who are looting or causing violence against demonstrators or police officers," he said. "I look forward to the day when we get rid of a curfew, when we don’t have the National Guard, when our police officers don’t have helmets on”.

A curfew is in effect for the city and county of Los Angeles for a third night, effective from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. local time. Mayor Garcetti said he will make a day-to-day decision on extending the curfew.

protests and riots in america update 1600 active duty troops were moved into the dc area
Joined by community faith leaders Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti takes a knee in prayer during a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Thousands defy curfew for peaceful march in New York

The police blocked off crowds making their way from Brooklyn across the Manhattan Bridge. There was an officer-involved shooting in which no officers were injured, according to the New York Police Department (NYPD).

The force has been criticized for its aggressive tactics and use of force against protestors through the weekend and on Monday. The city’s Democratic mayor and New York’s Democratic governor have faced pressure from the president to put a stop to vandalism and looting during the demonstrations.

protests and riots in america update 1600 active duty troops were moved into the dc area
Front line healthcare workers take a knee and raise their fists in solidarity during a Justice for George Floyd protest and rally in Times Square. Photograph: Brian Branch Price/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock

“The NYPD and the mayor did not do their job last night,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a briefing in Albany. “Look at the videos. It was a disgrace”. Cuomo, who has often clashed with Mayor Bill De Blasio, brought up the possibility of deploying the national guard over the mayor’s objections.

protests and riots in america update 1600 active duty troops were moved into the dc area
 Protesters demonstrate at Trump International hotel in New York. Photograph: Eduardo Muñoz/Reuters
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Ruby Lee