The Pentagon has put military police on alert to potentially travel to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and help in quelling unrest in the city, reports indicated on Saturday.
The Associated Press reported on the rare step from the Pentagon, detailing that soldiers from a number of bases were alerted to be ready within four hours if called. The report noted that the order for troops to get ready was sent verbally on Friday, after President Donald Trump asked Defense Secretary Mark Esper for military options bring an end to the unrest taking place across the city following George Floyd’s death.
The Associated Press cited a senior Pentagon official who said that the military units would be deployed under the Insurrection Act of 1807, which has not been used since the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the Rodney King trial.
The report came a day after President Donald Trump announced that the US military stood ready to intervene in Minneapolis to prevent further riots. In the tweet, Trump appeared to threaten to authorize the use of deadly force on protesters who participated in looting.
“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”
As The Washington Post reported, the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” was originally attributed to Miami Police Chief Walter Headley, who in 1967 promised a violent response to black protesters in the area following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Trump pushed back against critics later on Friday, saying that he did not mean his statement to be a threat, but rather an observation that looting often leads to more violence among protesters.
(AP) — Pentagon takes rare step of putting military police on alert to go to embattled Minneapolis.
— Seth Kaplan (@Seth_Kaplan) May 30, 2020
It was not clear of the Pentagon had any immediate plans to send US military forces to Minneapolis. A live report from KSTP indicated that the Pentagon may not send troops until requested by the Minnesota state government.
Violent unrest continued late on Friday — and into the early morning hours on Saturday — in Minneapolis, with many setting fires and damaging property one day after protesters breached the police department’s 3rd Precinct building and set it on fire.
The KSTP report indicated that the breadth of the unrest across the city made it difficult for local police forces to respond to all of it.