The nation’s capital has been the scene of angry protests following the death of George Floyd, but now that the unrest appears largely in hand, President Donald Trump has called for a de-escalation of the military presence in the city, as The Hill reports.
“I have just given an order for our National Guard to start the process of withdrawing from Washington, D.C., now that everything is under perfect control,” Trump tweeted on Sunday morning.
“They will be going home,” Trump added, pointing to how “[f]ar fewer protesters showed up last night than anticipated!” However, he went on to emphasize that the soldiers “can quickly return” should the need arise.
His announcement came in the wake of an earlier tweet on Saturday in which the president praised the work of the U.S. Secret Service and D.C. police while suggesting that there had been “a much smaller crowd” over the weekend than authorities had expected.
National Guard troops have been a point of controversy in the nation’s capital since violent rioting broke out in recent days and weeks.
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) has been among those complaining loudest, and she wrote a letter last Friday calling for the removal of National Guard troops brought in from other parts of the country and the withdrawal of additional federal law enforcement officials deployed in the wake of the demonstrations.
“The deployment of federal law enforcement personnel and equipment are inflaming demonstrators and adding to the grievances of those who, by and large, are peacefully protesting for change and reforms to the racist and broken systems that are killing Black Americans,” Bowser’s statement read.
She went on: “Therefore, I am requesting that you withdraw all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence from our city.”
Mattis hits Trump
Bowser wasn’t the only one to condemn the use of military forces to control rioters, as former Secretary of Defense James Mattis also chimed in on the issue.
In particular, the retired Marine Corps general objected to the recent removal of demonstrators from Lafayette Park, which is located directly across from the White House.
“When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” Mattis wrote in a letter that was published by The Atlantic last week.
“Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens — much less to provide a bizarre photo-op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside,” he chided.