New York: With unrest and protests raging on in the US over George Floyd’s killing, President Donald Trump has threatened to deploy the military if state officials failed to contain protest violence.
Over a dozen cities came under curfew on June 1 after being rocked by a night of looting that stretched into the day. However, hundreds defied the 11 pm curfew in New York and started looting shops, many of them selling luxury goods.
“If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the US military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said on Monday.
“We are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country. We will end it now,” Trump said in his address while the police fired smoke devices outside to push protesters back from the White House.
A section of the protesters had turned to violence directed against not only police and government offices but also against businesses, many of them immigrant-owned small retail outlets.
In New York state’s capital Albany, Indian-American liquor shop owner Hari Kumar had his business broken into and looted. He told the local NBC-affiliated TV station that tens of thousands of dollars in cash and merchandise were taken from his store.
“Half of my life’s earnings is gone,” he said. “We didn’t deserve this. Have mercy on us guys.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called Trump’s decision “shameful”. “The president is calling out the American military against American citizens… Shameful,” he tweeted.
Trump had tweeted last week when the first wave of attacks on businesses began, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”.
More than 5,600 people nationwide have been arrested over the past week for such offences as stealing, blocking highways and breaking curfew, according to media reports.
What began as a protest against the death of an African-American man, George Floyd under police custody Minneapolis on May 25, has spiralled into a nationwide movement against police brutality.