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Trump threatens to deploy military unless states halt violent protests

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday threatened to deploy the U.S. military unless states halt violent protests.

Trump made the promise during a press conference at the Rose Garden as protesters surrounded the White House about the death of George Floyd.

Tear gas canisters could be heard exploding as police and National Guard soldiers aggressively forced back hundreds of protesters who gathered in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, and chanted peacefully against police brutality and Floyd’s.

Trump deplored the violence that broke out in the nation’s capital Sunday night and warned that Washington’s 7 p.m. curfew would be strictly enforced.

In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey ordered an 8 p.m. statewide curfew that started Sunday and will run through June 8.

Trump said he was recommending that governors deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers to “dominate the streets.” If governors fail to take action, Trump said, he will deploy the United States military and “quickly solve the problem for them.”

Phoenix police said Monday that more than 200 adults and over 10 minors were arrested during a Sunday evening protest in downtown Phoenix, with charges including rioting, unlawful assembly, disorderly conduct and curfew violation.

The country has been beset by angry demonstrations for the past week in some of the most widespread racial unrest in the U.S. since the 1960s. Spurred in part by Floyd’s death, protesters have taken to the streets to decry the killings of black people by police.

On Monday, police fired tear gas at hundreds of protesters who spilled onto an interstate highway in the heart of Philadelphia just before a 6 p.m. curfew took effect.

While most of the demonstrations have been peaceful, others have descended into violence, leaving neighborhoods in shambles, stores ransacked, windows broken and cars burned, despite curfews around the country and the deployment of thousands of National Guard members in at least 15 states.

Earlier Monday, Trump told the nation’s governors in a video conference that they they “look like fools” for not deploying even more National Guard troops. “Most of you are weak,” he said.

He added: “You’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, dismissed Trump’s comments as the “rantings of an insecure man trying to look strong after building his entire political career on racism.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, vowed to address institutional racism in his first 100 days in office. He met in person with black leaders in Delaware and also held a virtual meeting with big-city mayors.

Biden said hate emerges “when you have somebody in power who breathes oxygen into the hate.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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